Macedonian Army to modernize in line with the latest NATO standards

Macedonian Army marked in 2015 ts 23rd year of existence    Photo: Morm.gov.mk
Macedonian Army marked in 2015 ts 23rd year of existence Photo: Morm.gov.mk

Macedonian Army will modernize and update to the latest NATO standards and this process will be conducted in accordance with the long-term development plan for the defense capabilities over the 2014-2023 period and the integral modernization plan.

The Ministry of Defense of Macedonia told Balkan Defense that equipping and modernizing the armed forces are among the key tasks in the upcoming period. “The Ministry of Defense and the Army of Republic of Macedonia are in constant coordination with the government and the President fully supports this important process”, the Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

It argued that because of the procedures and the nature of the purchases it is not able to provide information on either the type of the equipment or the size of the funds that will be allocated to modernize the army.
“The Ministry of Defense is to determine the most effective approach to equipping the Army in separate units, ranging from equipping the reporting unit in the Army of Republic of Macedonia, according to the priorities of the strategy of defense”, the Ministry of Defense went on.

The President of the Balkan Security Forum, Blagoja Markovski, also a retired general, said it is essential the state allocates more money for the military.

“The Army of Macedonia, in terms of equipping, is very much behind modern security systems. From that point of view, the Army needs quite a large allocation of budgetary resources to be able to equip every soldier, first individually and then from a whole perspective. Since 2006 the defense budget each year decreased from 2. 2% to a currently 1.3%. If we make a comparison with security systems of other countries, then we will see if this percentage being spent on defense is maintained, we will continue to stagnate”, Markovski warned.

For him, the announcement for the purchase of new equipment for the army is encouraging. “But again, worrying is that only those units participating in defense peacekeeping missions will be better equipped. It should be borne in mind that the Army has to prepare for its fundamental mission of protecting the country, and only then think about all the other missions in dealing with international crises”, Markovski added.

Macedonian troops undergoing various field training sessions Photos: Morm.gov.mk

Macedonian troops undergoing various field training sessions Photos: Morm.gov.mk

12171378_989165001147218_316315890_o

Ilija Nikolovski, a former general in the Army of Macedonia, also considers it is highly necessary the Government increases the budget for the Army. “Just remember that, if, according to the standards of NATO, defense budgets should be around 2%, there was a time when ours was even 2.5%”, Nikolovski said.

Shortly before being removed from office, former Chief of the Army of Macedonia Goranco Koteski called on the Army Day on August 18 for the modernization and new weapons to be purchased for the army, greater financial independence and improvement of the living standards of soldiers.

“One of the most important elements in the functioning of the Army of Macedonia and its combat readiness is its modernization with new armament, technique and equipment. This is not only necessary but imperative in the best interest of defense and security of our country and our participation in collective defense and security”, Koteski highlighted.

Macedonian Army this year marked 23 years of its existence. “We will continue with reforms and tribute levied in international peacekeeping missions, and we do that because these reforms provide further strengthening the army. Our key task in the coming period we will be equipping and modernization”, Defense Minister Zoran Jolevski in his address on the occasion of Army Day.

Correspondence by Miki Trajkovski from Skopje