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Thursday, 07 April 2022 10:29

The Euro-Atlantic Council of North Macedonia in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, the M6 Training Center and the NATO Sector for Public Diplomacy from Brussels, organized the traditional "press conference", in order to celebrate NATO Day - 4th April. The event took place in the premises of the Educational Center M6 Skopje starting at 10:00 on 04.04.2022.

The press conference "NATO Day - April 4" is a traditional activity of the Euro-Atlantic Council of North Macedonia, which in addition to marking the anniversary of the signing of the Washington Treaty and the formation of NATO, serves as an informative event that aims to inform the general public and the media on global developments, our contribution as a country, and the benefits of NATO membership.

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All the reforms and progress on an annual basis were presented at the event, with special accent to the army (increased funds for equipment and modernization, international missions, new uniforms, dealing with modern threats, etc.). This year, special attention was paid to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, in anticipation of the NATO summit in Madrid.

The event was opened by the President of the Euro-Atlantic Council of North Macedonia, Ismet Ramadani, who sent a message to all European officials to make a joint effort to start EU membership negotiations as soon as possible in these difficult times, when we are facing economic, political and security crisis.

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The event was hosted by Mr. Sveto Janevski, Executive Director of the Business Club of the Euro-Atlantic Council of North Macedonia.

In his address, Janevski stressed that we should be both swift and brave in reforms because "only prosperous economies can guarantee security and stability."

Regarding energy, he said the current law must be redesigned, and the bureaucratic procedures reduced. Regarding agriculture, he stressed the importance of restructuring subsidies and providing soft loans.

"The main short-term priority should be the implementation of economic policies aimed at raising the standard and providing opportunities for young people. We must quickly secure energy independence, redesign current law, reduce bureaucratic practices, and enable all interested parties to invest in renewable sources. Although we are traditionally an agricultural country with ideal conditions for food production, we annually record a trade deficit of over 300 million. This year it will increase. "Food imports were around 700 million, but this year we expect them to be one billion." - concluded Janevski

The keynote speakers were the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, the Minister of Defense, a senior NATO official and the US Ambassador.

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In his address, the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovacevski stressed the importance of our NATO membership and reaffirmed our readiness to stand side by side with the allies.

"On March 27, 2020, the original document of ratification of the Accession Protocol for North Macedonia for NATO membership was submitted to the US State Department, which made our country a member of the Alliance.
Since then we have been an equal part of the most powerful military alliance in the world built and based on the highest civilizational democratic values. "Our country is a factor of stability and security in the region, where citizens have a secure future."

We consider the Russian military aggression in Ukraine unprovoked and unjustified, but also a serious violation of international law and a brutal threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. said Kovacevski.

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"The process of integration of the Republic of North Macedonia into the NATO Alliance was long. Now, in a time of military crisis of this magnitude, we realize how important it is to have its security guaranteed by the world's largest security and defense alliance.

"We can rightly say that we are part of the global process and that together with our allies we will address all conventional and hybrid threats to security, safety, and world peace." - concluded Kovacevski

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Slavjanka Petrovska, the Minister of Defense of North Macedonia in her address focused on the good timing of becoming a NATO member, especially after the latest developments in the world. "It confirms the correctness of our reasonable, courageous and pragmatic decisions." With NATO membership, the stability of the country is untouchable, and N. “Macedonia and 29 allies jointly guarantees security," said Petrovska.

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NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Carmen Romero addressed the forum via video. She said that Russia's aggression against Ukraine emphasized NATO's key task, which is to protect the Alliance member states and their citizens.

"In the context of this new and unexpected reality, I would like to commend our newest member - North Macedonia, for your commitment to NATO, because you were a truly remarkable ally and a key element for the stability of the Western Balkans." "North Macedonia's efforts to promote security, peace and stability in the region are really crucial for the alliance," Romero said in a video address.

Celebrating NATO Day, Romero stressed, is crucial in this historic milestone, where we have a complex struggle for our values and the preservation of freedom and democracy - against autocracy, the rule of law, against the use of brutal force.

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H.E. Kate Marie Byrnes, US Ambassador to North Macedonia also addressed the panel via video.

The United States were the first to welcome North Macedonia into the Alliance two years ago. "With N. Macedonia, the NATO alliance has only strengthened. "As an equal partner, the United States are proud to stand united with North Macedonia," said US Ambassador Kate Mary Byrnes. In a video address, she stressed that Russia's unjustified aggression in Ukraine endangers regional security. "We see how important the partnership is for both North Macedonia and Europe," Byrnes said.

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The moderator of the event, Secretary General of the Euro-Atlantic Council of North Macedonia, Ilija Djugumanov said that in addition to the 73rd anniversary of the signing of the Washington Agreement, this year marks 25 years since the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic Council of Macedonia, 30 years of the Army, and two years of NATO membership.

"Throughout the 25-year history of our organization, this day was most often celebrated under the motto “NATO DAYS, NATO WEEK or NATO MONTH”. We have organized more than 200 projects, 8 NATO simulations, 5 competitions for essays and cartoons, 3 Academies, workshops, conferences, debates, humanitarian donations and blood donations, visits to NATO headquarters in Brussels and many other activities. " said Djugumanov.

“After our NATO membership, because of the pandemic and now the invasion of Ukraine, we may not have directly felt the economic benefits of the membership itself, as was the case in Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania. However, the membership, in these difficult times for European security, gives us a guarantee and protection by the most powerful military-political alliance in the world”. Concluded Djugumanov.

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