Minister Radmila Shekerinska concluded her several-day visit to the United States with a press conference in Vermont, where she touched upon the meetings and talks at the Pentagon and the State Department, as well as the cooperation between North Macedonia and this US federal state, and the opportunities for developing this multi-decade cooperation in defense, but also in the economy, agriculture, tourism and trade.
“We are proud of our partnership with Vermont. Approximately 5,000 troops from North Macedonia have been part of the co-operation programs to date. That is incredible, it is more than 50 percent of our total armed forces. There is no soldier in the Army of the Republic of North Macedonia who does not know about Vermont. Next year we will host a large military exercise with parachute elements for the first time and we expect a team from the Vermont National Guard to join us. “It will be another chance for us to show how close and successful our cooperation is,” said Minister Shekerinska.
The Minister pointed out that the visit to Vermont was preceded by a successful visit and meetings in Washington, where the meeting with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III confirmed the excellent alliance between North Macedonia and the United States.
“We had a really successful political visit to Washington before coming here to Vermont. The visit to Vermont is the crown of our stay in the United States, which rounded off a very successful visit. This visit comes a year and a half after gaining our NATO membership that we had been waiting for for almost three decades. “The goal has become a reality as a result of several generations of men and women, especially in the military and in politics, while the defense framework has been strongly supported by the United States”, the Minister stated.
Regarding the opportunities for development of cooperation, Shekerinska said that our goal is to make the disaster prevention system more efficient and that is why we are discussing the exchange of experiences and the implementation of civil protection and disaster response trainings.
The Adjutant General of Vermont National Guard, Major General Gregory Knight, congratulated North Macedonia on its accession to the Alliance and expressed readiness to expand defense cooperation into economy.
“I want to congratulate North Macedonia and Minister of Defense Radmila Shekerinska on the accession of North Macedonia to NATO. It is an honor for us to have a role in that achievement through our partnership. It is truly an incredible achievement that speaks volumes about the commitment of North Macedonia to our partnership. “We are also prepared for opportunities for improved economic initiative,” Knight said.
Vermont Lieutenant Governor Molly Gray pointed to the potential for co-operation between the US state and North Macedonia.
“With North Macedonia we started to identify key areas for logical partnerships, to understand what Vermont has to offer, and to understand and learn what North Macedonia has to do, to exchange best practices in agriculture, tourism, academic exchanges, medicine, environment, and trade opportunities “, she said and added that work is already underway to connect the academic communities, as well as the business sectors of the two countries.
Gray thanked Minister Shekerinska for her vision and inclusive approach, as well as for her commitment to a sincere and comprehensive partnership between Vermont and North Macedonia.
The visit to Vermont ended with a demonstration of Vermont National Guard F-35 fighter jets take- off.
Prior to her visit to Vermont, Minister Shekerinska and the Macedonian delegation in Washington met with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other senior US administration officials, including Pentagon Under Secretary of State for Policy Colin Kahl and the new US envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar.