North Macedonia became NATO’s newest member

On 27 March 2020, North Macedonia became NATO’s newest member, upon depositing its instrument of accession to the North Atlantic Treaty with the US State Department in Washington DC. NATO Allies signed North Macedonia’s Accession Protocol in February 2019, after which all 29 national parliaments voted to ratify the country’s membership.

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Soldiers of the North Macedonian Army. (Picture source Army Recognition)

Speaking in Brussels on Friday NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “North Macedonia is now part of the NATO family, a family of thirty nations and almost one billion people. A family based on the certainty that, no matter what challenges we face, we are all stronger and safer together.“ North Macedonia is a long-standing contributor to our Euro-Atlantic security, including by participating in NATO-led missions in Afghanistan and in Kosovo.

A flag-raising ceremony for North Macedonia will take place at NATO Headquarters on 30 March 2020, in the presence of the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, and the Chargé d’Affaires of the Delegation of North Macedonia to NATO Mr. Zoran Todorov. The flag of North Macedonia will be simultaneously raised at the Allied Command Operations in Mons (Belgium) and at the Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk (US).

The North Macedonia Armed Forces consist of an army, navy, air and air defense force, and a police force (under the Ministry of Interior). Under its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Membership Action Plan, Macedonia has made strong strides on major reforms and reconstruction of its armed forces toward the goal of building and sustaining a modern, professional defense force of about 12,000 troops.

The Republic of Macedonia makes an active contribution to the maintenance of international peace and security by taking part in international peace support operations, especially those led by the United Nations (UN), NATO and the EU, as well as other regional initiatives. Over 4,000 Macedonian personnel have served within international peace support operations.

A single Motorised Infantry Brigade will provide the primary combat and manoeuvre element of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia (ARM). A single active company will be retained for armour, artillery and air defence. The Brigade will form the focus of our equipment modernization plan and will provide an effective, mobile and flexible force that is interoperable with NATO, including the Light Infantry Battalion Group that provides the core of our contribution to the Alliance.

Air assets will include transport and attack helicopters in the short-term, but the latter capability will be discarded once the helicopters reach the end of their life. We will improve our air surveillance capacities. Enhanced capabilities for the ARM will also include a new Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) battalion as well as improved cyber defence. We will develop a new reserve concept and initiate a pilot project as part of the creation of a small, active reserve.