18th August 2017 Skopje, North Macedonia

Here’s to another year of joint defence achievements

UK and Macedonia flags at our joint activity during one of our Dojran Battlefiled Study Tours
UK and Macedonia flags at our joint activity during one of our Dojran Battlefiled Study Tours

Today on the 18th August the Macedonian Army is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Every year when we attend events marking the achievements of the Macedonian Army, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the bilateral Defence Engagement between UK and Macedonia.

Training and sharing experiences on how UK can best help Macedonia meet NATO criteria and streamline with NATO allies have continued. Our bi-lateral partnership has ranged for more than two decades. In September 1995 we signed The Memorandum for Understanding for Defence Cooperation, which is the first agreement between UK and Macedonia on bilateral cooperation.
In the past two decades the UK have been one of the firmest supporters of both Macedonia’s Security and Defence sector reforms and of its NATO membership. British military personnel for years have shared best practice and advice to our Macedonian partners. We have also shared a decade of involvement in the International Security Force Afghanistan (ISAF) where British and Macedonian soldiers have been serving closely together. We have welcomed your specialists at the Royal College of Defence Studies, the Joint Services Command and Staff College, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and to many other short-term training and military exercises.

We are proud to be able to talk of the excellent cooperation we have had over the past year, and these are just a few examples;

We supported once again the Summer Campus hosted by the Macedonian Military Academy and Army at Krivolak Training Area with participants from 12 countries. It’s an extraordinary opportunity for cadets from several countries to learn and exercise together and as a way to prepare them to jointly contribute to international security. This year the Campus focused on responses in light of the migration crisis and international military responses. As part of the British engagement we had two lecturers from the UK. Also, we organised the Battlefield Study Tour for the cadets in Dojran. The results were extremely positive and useful, raising interest with other partners for developing their own version of battlefield study tours.

We also welcomed from the UK Brigadier Alan Richmond, Commander of the 160th Infantry Brigade. During his visit to Macedonia he attended the Summer Campus, leading the battlefield study tour to Dojran and he also had the chance to experience first-hand the cooperation of Macedonian and other countries’ cadets. Brigadier Richmond also met the Macedonian Chief of Defence Lt Col Metodija Velickovski and visited the Special Operations Regiment.

We broadened the cooperation of the Royal College of Defence Studies with other Macedonian institutions this year and welcomed Gabriela Jakovleva from the Interior Department.

Pance Mehandziski from the Army of Macedonia received the Overseas Students’ Prize during his training at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell in the UK. This prize is awarded to the international cadet who during the course has produced the best overall performance in leadership, officer qualities and professional studies. Pance Mehandziski attended the Initial Officer Training Course as part of UK’s support to the Macedonian Army and its reform process.

And last, but by no means least – each year at the Queen’s Birthday Party the Macedonian Army representatives render the UK and Macedonia national anthems.

Macedonia has decided to join NATO and meeting the criteria is a robust process. Reform is a never-ending process and essential to maintaining and managing a modern, interoperable, deployable and effective armed force. Managing a modern defence force requires effective management and integration of diverse elements.
UK remains a supporter for Macedonia’s membership to NATO. We are committed to peace and security, maintaining a range of partnerships for security cooperation with many NATO members and partners.
Strong links require time, energy and drive, and we in the Defence Section in Skopje have been working on it for almost two decades.

To many more UK and Macedonia partnerships – Happy Army Day to the Army of the Republic of Macedonia!

Defence Section Skopje Team