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The accession of North Macedonia to NATO will contribute to the improvement of the security environment in the Balkans, National Defence Minister Gabriel Les stated on Tuesday, on the occasion of the visit to Bucharest of his counterpart of the Republic of North Macedonia Radmila Sekerinska-Jankovska.

"I congratulated Mrs Minister for successfully completing the demarches to join NATO, the most powerful political-military alliance in the history of the world, in which the Republic of North Macedonia will soon become the 30th member with full rights. The fact that we will be 30 allies within NATO will make the Alliance more powerful and it will certainly contribute to the improvement of the security environment in the Balkans region," Gabriel Les said in a press statement held at the National Defence Ministry (MApN) headquarters.

He assured Radmila Sekerinska-Jankovska of Romania's further support and showed that Romania will always be a friend and a trustworthy ally.

"In terms of the bilateral and regional cooperation, we discussed about continuing the close collaboration in the defence intelligence area, on shared spaces and themes of interest, such as the security situation in the Western Balkan region and the migration phenomenon. Moreover, I highlighted Romania's constant support for the Euro-Atlantic integration efforts of the Republic of North Macedonia, with an emphasis on the areas of strategic planning, training and doctrine, logistics, human resources, communication and computer science, as well as for strengthening the cooperation within the meetings of South-East Europe Defense Ministerial [SEDM] Process, whose meeting we will host here in Bucharest between 15 and 17 October, but also within the South-East Europe Brigade [SEEBRIG]," Les also said.

Within the meeting, the Romanian Minister presented Romania's endeavors to strengthen the deterrence and defence posture on the Eastern Flank of NATO, within NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence, but also by developing, on the national soil, a ground command and control capability at the army body level.

"On this occasion, I reiterated our country's commitment to continue the contribution to the fair burden-sharing within the Alliance, on the three levels - financial, capabilities and contributions to operations and missions - and I made known that in Romania, for the 3rd consecutive year, the budget earmarked to defence stands at two percent of the GDP, a value which will be maintained for at least ten years," Les also said.

Another topic tackled with the North Macedonia's Defence Minister was the cooperation inside the European Union, in the context of Romania holding, in the first six months of 2019, the Presidency at the Council of the European Union.
"In respect to the defence dimension, Romania continued, during its mandate, the ongoing efforts at European level for the development of all initiatives regarding the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and the European Defence Fund (EDF)," Les stated. AGERPRES (RO - author: Daniel Alexandru Florea, editor: Florin Marin; EN - author: Rodica State, editor: Adina Panaitescu)

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