Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs, Radmila Sekerinska and Nikola Dimitrov respectively, are in Brussels on Wednesday for the meeting of the North Atlantic Council with the Republic of Macedonia (NAC + 1). The meeting with Ambassadors of the North Atlantic Council chaired by NATO Deputy Secretary General, Rose Gottemoeller, is focused on the 17th cycle of Macedonia’s NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) and the government’s results in fulfilling NATO’s membership requirements.In 2018 Macedonia will increase its defense budget and participation in the Afghan ‘Resolute Response’ mission for 0.2 and 20.00 percent respectively, Sekerinska said at a joint press conference with Dimitrov and Gottemoeller.
Minister of Transport and Communications said on Monday EUR 20 million will be invested in the
construction of water supply and sewerage networks in over 20 municipalities. Rural municipalities will be given
priority, since they have only 18-percent coverage with water supply and sewerage networks. The ministry is
currently implementing the project in cooperation with the European Investment Bank (EIB), the KfW bank and
the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). A portion of these EUR 20 million are loans, while the
remaining funds are grants from international partners.
The minister of foreign affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Igor Crnadak said, during a meeting of foreign ministers of the American-Adriatic Charter (A5), whose host was the Macedonian foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov, that there isstill no consensus regarding NATO membership but there is a full consensus for different kind of cooperation with NATO itself, including activating the Membership Action Plan (MAP). Crnadak added however that Bosnia and Herzegovina is keeping on making reforms, expecially reguarding European area and european integration. The US assistant secretary of state Hoyt Brian Yee, who met Crnadak after the meeting, also attended the meeting.
The prime minister of Albania Edi Rama said at a meeting of the NATO Military Committee said that Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Serbia, Macedonia and Kosovo are still missing from a NATO map. According to the Albanian news agencies ATA, this territories that should be involved more in European area are seen as vulnerable by other political actors. The chairman of the NATO Military Committee general Petr Pavel thanked Albania for its committment in safeguard of security in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Pavel stressed as well the role of Albania in fighting ISIS and keeping peace in the Balcan area.
Greek foreign Minister Kotzias met with the United Nations Secretary Antonio Guterres to discuss Macedonian name issue. Greek medias report that Kotzias said that he fund the discussion interesting and there is a window to begin discussions on the issue following the October 15th municipal elections in Macedonia, on the condition that Macedonia drops what he called “irredentism”. Greece frequently accuses Macedonia of irredentism, which it uses to label acts that undermine the Greek belief that symbols and historic figures from the Classical period belong exclusively to Greece.
Bulgaria supports Macedonia’s state unity and territorial integrity and is ready to help in resolving the name dispute with Greece, Bulgarian Defence Minister Krasimir Karakachanov stated Monday after the meeting with his Macedonian counterpart Radmila Sekerinska in Skopje. I want to underline this explicitly in order to end political speculation – we support the state unity and territorial integrity of the Republic of Macedonia. We do not have a problem with the name of the Republic of Macedonia, we recognize the country under its constitutional name. We are ready to help in resolving the dispute with other countries in order doors for full-fledged NATO membership to finally open for Macedonia, Karakachanov said. Karakachanov and Sekerinska underlined that today’s meeting was held to show the bilateral treaty signed by the two countries will not be left to mere words.
NATO Secratary General Stoltenberg informed in a letter to Defense Minister Sekerinska that Macedonia’s request to NATO’s Defense Education Enhancement Programme has been accepted. The DEEP is a vehicle reform, providing tailored pratical support to indivual countries in developing and reforming their profesional military education insitutions. Through faculty developement, curriculum developement and peer-to-peer consultations, the DEEP Programme fosters defense capacity building , cooperative capability development and stadardization, and promotes interoperability of processes and methodologies to enhance democratic institutions.
Macedonian Chambers of Commerce (MCC) signed Friday in Podgorica bilateral agreement on strengthening trade and economic cooperation with the Beijing Chamber of Commerce as well as declaration on establishing mechanisms for the leaders of the Chambers of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) in the 16 + 1 process aimed at enhancing China’s cooperation with CEE countries. President of the ICT Chamber within MCC, Sasa Ognenovski, participates at the 16 + 1 Summit in Podgorica together with mayors of the 16 CEE country’s capitals, presidents and deputies of chambers of commerce as well as the mayor of Beijing. The signed agreements include precisely established goals and activities, and mean new opportunities for Macedonian companies through the MCC to actively participate in the initiatives for increasing cooperation and trade partnerships with China and the 16 countries involved in this mega project for economic, political and cultural cooperation.
FM Dimitrov said to Reuters that Macedonia hopes it has done enough to convince the European Union to start accesion talks while a quarter of a century long row with neighbouring Greece rumbles on. Greece has vetoed the ex Yugoslav republic’s attempts to join both the EU and NATO beacuse according to Dimitrov the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over Greece’own northerly region of Macedonia. Time it takes to go through the EU membership process might give Greece, which has previously insisted that Skopje use a compound name such as “New” or “Upper” Macedonia, enough comfort that process can be halted if needed. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave a boost to Macedonia’s EU hopes, and those of Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Kosovo, saying on Wednesday: “We must maintain a credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans.
Speaker of the National Assembly of Slovenia Milan Brglez said Tuesday after meeting with his Macedonian counterpart, Talat Xhaferi. Slovenia supports and will support Macedonia in the European integration processes without any additional conditions. For small countries like Macedonia and Slovenia, it is typical to be united and together to achieve our goals before the international community. Slovenia will always support Macedonia on the path to European integration, the path to it will be easier if both countries do this together.