Mattis arrives in Skopje over possible Russian interference in referendum

Skopje, 17 September, 2018 - 13:17 (META) 

US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis landed at the Skopje International Airport this morning and was welcomed by Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska and US Ambassador Jess Bailey.

According to the announced agenda, Mattis is expected to meet Radmila Sekerinska, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and President Gjorge Ivanov today.

Yesterday, Eric Pahon, a spokesman for the Pentagon said that Mattis will urge Macedonian citizens to vote in the referendum and will also emphasize the five million dollars provided annually by the United States for security support.

“Russia seeks to convince the Macedonians that the West is going to abandon them, that Russia is the stable influence in the region. That is just not true. Changing Macedonia’s name and bringing the country into the alliance, would reduce Moscow’s influence. Macedonian accession to NATO is one of Russia’s worst nightmares,” Pahon told the New York Times.

The article by the American newspaper on Mattis’s visit quotes various Western diplomats, who say 40 new sites appear daily on Facebook to encourage people to boycott the referendum. These sites, which originate outside the country, fit into the pattern of Russian influence seen in other elections, say diplomats.

When Mattis announced the visit to Macedonia last week, he said he is coming to support Macedonia ahead of the upcoming referendum on the name and EU and NATO membership, but also to express concerns over possible Russian interference in the vote.

“It worries me … That kind of hardship that Russia is practicing from Estonia to the United States, from Ukraine and now to Macedonia, always adapts to a specific situation and has always been unacceptable,” said Mattis, when announcing the visit.

Merkel to visit Skopje on Saturday to learn more on referendum

Skopje, 3 September, 2018 - 14:57 (META) 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev today expressed hope that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will come to Skopje on Saturday, but pointed out that final confirmation of the visit, according to protocol, is yet to be announced by the German government.

“I hope that the visit will be on September 8th, but final confirmation should be announced by Germany,” said Zaev, answering a journalist’s question during today’s visit to Radishani.

Greek news agency ANA-MPA announced today that Merkel will come to Skopje on Saturday to form an impression on the upcoming referendum. The focus of the meeting will be “regional developments and bilateral issues”.

Dimitrov to visit US and meet with Pompeo

Washington, 20 August, 2018 - 16:08 (META) 

Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, on invitation of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, will pay a working visit to the United States from 20 to 22 August, reports the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition to the meeting with Pompeo State Secretary, meetings will also be held with senior representatives of the US administration – the National Security Council, the State Department, the Congress, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations and other institutions in Washington.

Bekteshi: One million tourists will visit Macedonia, we will achieve our goal prematurely

Skopje, 14 August, 2018 - 18:17 (META) 

According to the latest data published yesterday by the State Statistical Office, the increase in the number of tourists continues rapidly, so instead of 2020, as we predicted, we are on the verge of achieving this goal ahead of time. This year, we could reach hosting one million tourists with three millions of overnight stays, said Economy Minister Kreshnik Bekteshi.

According to Bekteshi, the share of tourism in the domestic gross product (GDP) is expected to be around three percent, taking into consideration that the projection is to be four percent by 2020. This continuous increase in the number of tourists will mean a larger foreign exchange influx.

“This is a sign that we are moving in the right direction, and that policies are well placed. Macedonia’s entry into NATO will also mean the removal of the last barrier that is often mentioned by foreign tourists who avoided our country, which is the issue of greater safety and security. However, this also means an increase in investments in the tourism infrastructure, which will certainly contribute to the development of the tourism sector,” emphasized Bekteshi.

Kurz will visit Macedonia to support the referendum on 7th of September

Vienna, 6 August, 2018 - 12:12 (META) 

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, will visit Macedonia on 7th of September, three weeks before the scheduled referendum regarding the name, which should resolve the dispute with Greece.

Kurz visits Macedonia at the invitation of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who has also invited several other European leaders before the referendum.

During Zaev’s last visit in Vienna, at the end of June, Kurtz appealed to the citizens of Macedonia to vote in the referendum for the new name “Northern Macedonia”.

“The agreement concerning the name of the country with Greece is a decisive progress in the process of Macedonia’s accession to the EU”, Kurts emphasized.

According to him, achieving progress regarding the European perspective is one of the priorities of the Austrian presidency with the EU.

“EU is not complete without the Western Balkans countries”, underlined Kurtz.

He told the Austrian media that Prime Minister Zaev wants to discuss the progress regarding the screening process.

Zaev on a two-day visit to Brussels, meetings with Tusk, Hahn and Stoltenberg

Brussels, 28 June, 2018 - 11:29 (META) 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, Deputy Prime Minister Radmila Šekerinska, Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov are on a two-day working visit to Brussels, stated the government’s press office.

Today, during this working visit, the government delegation will meet with the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. They will have a joint statement for the media, and will also meet with the Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

Prime Minister Zaev today in the afternoon will address the Crans Montana Forum at the session entitled “Southeastern Europe and its accession to the European Union”.

Tomorrow, a meeting is scheduled with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, followed by a joint press conference..

During the two-day working visit to Brussels, Prime Minister Zaev will participate in the working meeting of the Party of European Socialists.

British Prime Minister Theresa May in Skopje

Skopje, 17 May, 2018 - 17:41 (META) 

This afternoon, British Prime Minister Theresa May is on an official visit to Macedonia together with a government delegation.

She will be first greeted in the Government, followed by a press conference held by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. At 17 o’clock, Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi is organizing a reception in the Crystal Hall in Parliament.

Šekerinska from Vermont: Macedonia deserves NATO membership

Washington, 2 May, 2018 - 10:46 (META) 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Radmila Šekerinska, during her official visit to the United States stated that Macedonia deserves NATO membership.

She told a news conference in the US state of Vermont that Macedonia has shown that it is a dedicated partner to which Alliance members can count on.

“My goal is to seek the support of the strategic partner of Macedonia, the United States, ahead of the NATO Summit. Macedonia deserved its place in NATO, we have worked hard. We have shown that Macedonia is a committed partner to which Alliance members can count on. We believe that the invitation to Macedonia for NATO membership will contribute to our stability, but also to the stability of the region, and it will be in the US interest, said Šekerinska.

She met in Vermont with Governor Phil Scott and National Guard Commander Major General Steven Cray.

The Defense Secretary is scheduled to meet with US Secretary of Defense James Mattis today in Washington.

Šekerinska: Last year on April 27 we reached rock bottom and were on the brink of civil war

Washington, 27 April, 2018 - 15:38 (META) 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Radmila Šekerinska launched her official visit to the United States by taking part in a round table organized by the American Atlantic Council on the topic “The Balkans and NATO membership through the prism of Macedonia: High stakes in terms of global security and the fate of democracy in a small country “.

Šekerinska talked about the Balkans and the challenges it has faced in the past, the political crisis in Macedonia and the new reform processes, as well as the return of the country on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration.

“In these 10 months we have seriously focused on domestic reforms and on improving good neighborly relations. We focused on issues at the heart of Euro-Atlantic integration – free media, rule of law, interethnic relations and institutional resilience. We ask you to support Macedonia to receive an invitation to join NATO this year, because such a breakthrough can have a positive impact, which will create a new hope in the Balkans”, said the minister.

Turning to the events in Parliament that occured on the present day last year, Šekerinska said that last April, Macedonia “reached rock bottom”.

“The incident could have completely spun out of control and threatened to take the country a step closer to civil war. We had formed a majority in Parliament and everyone expected a new, reform-oriented government to be elected, and the people who wanted to stay in power saw that violence was their only way of staying. Fortunately the attempt was unsuccessful”, she said.

The Brdo-Brijuni process was first held in 2013 on a joint initiative of the presidents of the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia, in Brdo near Kranj, Slovenia.

Šekerinska: It’s possible we receive an invitation to NATO this year, I expect support from the USA

Skopje, 20 April, 2018 - 22:46 (META) 

We are focused on finding a solution to the name dispute by the end of June, in order to turn things around, so in July, Macedonia can receive an invitation to join NATO, said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Radmila Šekerinska at a meeting with journalists ahead of her official visit to the United States which lasts from April 26 to May 2, at the invitation of the US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis.

She pointed out that Macedonia can not become a member at this moment, but that it is possible for the country to receive an invitation from NATO, this year.

“It is important that the negotiation process with Greece succeed. I would like to emphasize that in such a case, Macedonia will not become a NATO member in July, but will only receive an invitation for membership, followed by the ratification process. This means that our southern neighbor will have another opportunity to block our membership if we do not reach a solution to the name dispute. Any postponement of the decision is to our disadvantage, because the timing is so important. Next year, Macedonia will hold presidential elections, and in Greece there will be European elections, therefore I think that we should make every effort to reach a solution”, said Šekerinska.

The Government, says the deputy Prime Minister, is focused on finding a solution to the name in time for the NATO summit because any delay can change the situation on the ground.

“There will be a period of time which will be unpredictable, because only a part of the work actually depends on Macedonia. Recent statements from Greek officials are not surprising because last year they said that EU membership would not be a problem, but NATO membership would be”, said Šekerinska.