January 10 - Skopje: Defense Ministry, EPF sign memorandum of understanding

Jan 10, 2024. Posted by  Balkan Periscope - Hellas

Defense Minister Slavjanka Petrovska and director at Slovenian organization ITF Enhancing Human Security, Tomaž Lovrenčič signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday for the first bilateral project between North Macedonia and the European Peace Facility (EPF).

The donation of EUR 9 million to the Army of North Macedonia will be used to purchase equipment for the light infantry battalion group.


"Funds will be used to purchase logistics and medical equipment, communication and information systems, intelligence capacities, engineering and training equipment," Minister Petrovska said.


According to the memorandum, the army Chief of Staff was also consulted during the purchase of equipment that will be realized by ITF in order to meet country's need and highest NATO standards.


EU Ambassador David Geer emphasized that within the frameworks of the defense sector at EPF, EU will provide EUR 9 million to the Army.


"I think this is one of the first contributions made by EPF in addition to our support for Ukraine. By promoting the non-lethal equipment on the infantry battalion group list, we will help the Army become more agile and increase its involvement in peace operations within the frameworks of the joint and foreign defense policies," Geer said.


ITF Director Tomaž Lovrenčič said that they were eagerly waiting to cooperate with the Defense Ministry in terms of the donation and planned activities.


"Activities have already begun and in the next year and a half we will see the outcome of the procurement process and delivery, which I believe will illustrate EU's commitment and accession policy, as well as its foreign policy in terms of strengthening partnership with North Macedonia," Lovrenčič highlighted, adding that it is the first time this instrument is presented in the region, and will be an example for others to follow suit.


When asked about the Defense Ministry’s achievements in terms of such collaborations and access to aid from EU for reforms, including the entire state and institutions in view of the frequent criticism, Geer said that the European Commission’s report that was published in November of last year, noted that there is good progress in terms of joint security and foreign policies.


  "I think that it was one of the most positive aspects from the report, which means that we will continue supporting reforms in this area. This support today is not a one-time thing, we see it as a long-term relationship in terms of improving the country's defense capacities, as a key partner within EU and NATO," Geer stressed.


In response to the same question, Petrovska said that this confirms the country's strategic goal - EU membership. She also highlighted that the European Commission assessed a good level of progress in terms of the country's compliance with EU's common foreign and security policies, which was also confirmed with the bilateral screening on this chapter.


The Defense Ministry is expecting to present to the Government the draft-plan for reforming the crisis management system - civil protection, while the law on critical infrastructure is in the final stages of consultation. This, Petrovska stressed, is only part of the reforms that are being implemented.