Mr. Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me join in welcoming the Afghani Foreign Minister Dadfar-Spanta.
We are all aware of the fact that in the last period the Alliance and the Partners together with the Afghani people have attained indeed considerable achievements in terms of stabilization and reconstruction of the country in the establishment of democratically elected institutions, and in the implementation of the development strategies.
However, we are also aware of the fact that it is now that we have to respond to the challenge of completing the task in Afghanistan promptly and in the best possible manner in order that the country is ensured long term stability and prosperity.
After all, the importance of our further contribution to the peace and stability in Afghanistan as one of the key priorities was clearly emphasized at the Riga NATO Summit. This issue is related to the substance of the future role of NATO. The Alliance's greatest advantage are its military capacities. Yet the Alliance's greatest weakness in ensuring lasting peace are again its military capacities. NATO requires a concept for a framework of cooperation and coordination with international factors having reconstruction and development capacities for purposes of a successful epilogue of the endeavors in Afghanistan.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the last years, i.e. as of August 2002 Macedonia has been fully dedicated and has greatly invested in the ISAF Mission. To date, we have conducted 9 rotations of the Macedonian Army troops, by which a total of 361 troops have been deployed on the Mission in Afghanistan.
Currently, Macedonia has one Infantry Company of 126 troops (part of the company securing the ISAF Mission Command), one downsized platoon of 21 troops (part of the German contingent that will be withdrawn in February 2007) and 4 troops part of the Joint Medical Team of Macedonia, Croatia and Albania. (Currently there are consuitations held for the further functioning of the Medical Team which is to continue its deployment as part of a new contingent instead as thus far as part of the Greek contingent). Thus, Macedonia is present in Afghanistan with 151 troops, that makes us one of the largest non-NATO contributing nations in ISAF.
Aiming at enhancing the operability of our troops and for purposes of their equal participation together with the Allies' troops, in November 2006, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia adopted a decision to reduce to the minimal level the national caveats that limit ISAF operations. Such a step is another concrete contribution we are giving to the more successful and prompter accomplishment of the ISAF Mission goals.
Macedonia will continue enhancing its role of a generator of stability within and beyond its borders. The participation of Macedonian troops in international NATO-led peace operations will remain Macedonia's significant pledge for the protection of the values shared within the Euro-Atlantic Community.
At the end, I should like to underline that we have another excellent opportunity to discuss issues related to ISAF and Afghanistan on 28 and 29 June, 2007 at the EAPC Security Forum to be held in the historical town of Ohrid.
Therefore, allow me to take this opportunity to invite you to participate in the Security Forum by which you will once again reaffirm the power of solidarity and dedication of our countries aiming at prompter resolution of issues related to the Euro-Atlantic and global security.
Thank you for your attention.