State Secretary Nikolic at a panel discussion in Ohrid: Climate change is a priority security issue for North Macedonia and NATO


“Both the Allies and the NATO Alliance characterize climate change as a key security issue of the highest priority. The recent fires that we and Southeast Europe have faced have put our capacities, equipping, manning, their training, but also the coordination of the entire protection and rescue system to the test. The conclusion was and is clear – the system is in place, but there is room for improvement”, said State Secretary Dragan Nikolic at today’s panel – discussion dedicated to civil-military support for civilian disasters, which took place at the beginning of the NATO exercise “North Macedonia 2021“.

Nikolic said that the Army has always been involved in crisis situations in recent years. The effects of the Army’s involvement in dealing with crises situations were particularly noticeable in the floods that hit the capital in 2016, as well as almost two months ago when it was fully involved in supporting civilian institutions in dealing with fires across the country. In the period from the beginning of August to the beginning of September, a total of about 2,000 members were engaged, as well as army aircraft that carried out over 80 hours of flight and dumped over 500 tons of water in this period of extinguishing fires.

“We fought with all available means and fully made ourselves available to the protection and rescue system because the Army exists for the citizens and their safety and security, even in cases when we are fighting natural disasters”, the State Secretary said at the panel.

Membership in the Alliance was instrumental in dealing with these disasters, especially when it comes to the speed and openness of allies to help, Nikolic said, and added that the system must work to be even more prepared to deal with disasters of this type.

Nikolic pointed to several key improvements that will strengthen the disaster response system – improving coordination, building dual capacities in the Army and improving working conditions in institutions that deal with natural disasters.

“We need to have full manning of the fire brigade services, the protection and rescue system, the institutions that are first in the fight against natural disasters. And here we are taking steps forward – just a few days ago with the amendments to the Law on Protection and Rescue we increased the salaries of pyrotechnicians and inspectors in the Directorate for Protection and Rescue. We need a system where young, motivated, prepared and trained people work, and that is why we are improving the working conditions in the institutions that are part of this system”, the State Secretary said.

“No country on its own can deal with large-scale natural disasters like the ones we have seen in the previous period, Nikolic said, and added that North Macedonia is always the first country to offer aid, and our neighbours and allies also had the same approach, where they unreservedly helped in dealing with the fires in our country this summer.

In addition to State Secretary Nikolic, the panel discussion was also participated by Marc Di Paolo, Director of Defence Institution and Capacity Building in NATO, and Shefik Bajrami, Assistant Director of the Public Security Bureau.

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