Chair of the NATO Military Committee visits the Republic of North Macedonia
From 3rd to 5th September 2023, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer was in the Republic of North Macedonia, at the invitation of its Chief of Defence, Lieutenant General Vasko Gjurchinovski. During his visit, he met with the President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, the Minister of Defence, Slavjanka Petrovska and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bujar Osmani. Admiral Bauer also visited the “Wolves” Special Forces Battalion at the Ilinden Barracks. He concluded his visit by addressing members of the General Staff and the General Mihailo Apostolski Military Academy.
Starting off his visit to Skopje, the Chair of the NATO Military Committee joined Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Gjurchinovski for a short military ceremony and the traditional inspection of the troops. They then sat down to discuss the ongoing process to transform and modernize the Armed Forces of North Macedonia through major new defence investment and capability building. They also discussed North Macedonia’s contributions to the Alliance. “Over the last three years, North Macedonia have proven to be a reliable Ally – actively contributing to the Alliance’s collective defence. Through its contributions to NATO’s missions in Kosovo and Iraq as well as the multinational battlegroups on our Eastern Flank, North Macedonia is helping NATO achieve its core tasks as well as reinforce its deterrence and defence posture”, noted the Chair. The discussions then shifted to the agenda for the upcoming NATO Military Committee Conference slated to take place in Oslo, later this month.
In his meeting with the Minister of Defence, Slavjanka Petrovska, Admiral Bauer commended North Macedonia for its recent announcements on its defence spending and national defence review. “Since joining, North Macedonia has taken major steps in implementing defence reforms and has achieved an impressive level of military integration within NATO, adjusting its structures and forces to NATO’s needs and demands as well as increasing interoperability with Allies. We look forward to seeing what your increased defence spending and the review of your National Security Strategy brings”, underscored Admiral Bauer after the meeting.
Discussions with President Pendarovski and Foreign Affairs Minister Bujar Osmani focussed on the current security environment, the existing threats to Allied security and the implications of the Ukrainian War. “Many Allies, including North Macedonia, have been providing essential support to Partner Ukraine, through financial, military and humanitarian aid. This continued support is making a difference on the frontlines, and is giving Ukraine a fighting chance of winning this war and regaining its freedom, sovereign rights and territory”, emphasised the NATO Chair.
The Chair then headed over to the Ilinden Barracks to meet personnel from the Special Forces Battalion, nicknamed the Wolves. “This is a highly decorated unit that has proven its skills, time and time again, in missions abroad, including in Iraq and in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s ISAF mission. Special Forces are known to be extremely qualified and highly trained service members, and I was pleased to see that these Wolves live up to those standards”, stated Admiral Bauer.
Admiral Bauer concluded his programme in North Macedonia with a visit to the Military Academy General Mihailo Apostolski, where he addressed members of the General Staff as well as staff members of the Military Academy. In his remarks, he highlighted the importance of NATO’s collective defence and explained how the decisions of the Vilnius Summit further strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defence posture. “The Regional Plans endorsed at the Summit are the most comprehensive plans NATO has had since the end of the Cold War. They describe how NATO will defend key and relevant places within our Alliance against the two main threats: Russia and Terrorist Groups. And they integrate NATO and national defence planning more closely than ever. Our collective defence is truly an effort by the collective but having a strong national defence is a key part of that”, he underlined.