Marking the Day of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia
Friday, 17 August 2018 12:05   

ARM1Respected members of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia,
Distinguished attendees,
Dear fellow citizens,

It is my honor to greet you and congratulate you tomorrow's August 18th - the Day of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia.

When, in 2009, for the first time I was elected President of the Republic of Macedonia, I also assumed, with great respect, the duty of Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. I myself was a soldier and I know what hierarchy and discipline mean. I know that for you the uniform is more than clothes. It is also a symbol of honor, dignity and integrity. Not everyone has the courage to wear the uniform that implies great responsibility. Preserving freedom and peace is one of the most risky but also most noble tasks.

In the past years, the Army of the Republic of Macedonia fulfilled this great task. And it did it in conditions that year after year became more complicated and riskier.

The Army is a neutral guardian of the territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Macedonia. It protects the border, the sovereignty, the security and unity of the Republic of Macedonia. But the Army is not limited to the exercise of its constitutional competences only.

Over the years, the Army assisted its citizens in dealing with natural disasters and remediation of the affected areas. It did it even at the price of performing the job in the competence of other institutions. Always and everywhere, the Army is ready to help its citizens, because it is their guardian.

Also, the Army has been continuously participating in peacekeeping missions worldwide. I had the opportunity to visit our soldiers in Kabul and Sarajevo. I can freely say that there are no better, more courageous and more virtuous soldiers than the Macedonian peacekeepers. My pride is to be your commander-in-chief. Often I say that with 27 rotations in ISAF, 16 rotations in "Resolute Support", 15 rotations in Iraq, 51 rotations in ALTHEA, 11 rotations in UNIFIL, our Army has become the most tested army in the history of the Alliance. And these are only part of the missions.

I must admit that as a Supreme Commander I was proud when I listened to the praising words for the Macedonian Army from foreign statesmen and generals.

The Macedonian contribution is not symbolic, but essential. Once we were the fourth contributor country per capita, sharing the vision of a free and democratic world. We had more troops in Afghanistan than 90% of the NATO member states.

Although the Republic of Macedonia is not yet in NATO, the Army of the Republic of Macedonia is de facto in NATO. Therefore, the Republic of Macedonia does not turn from the mapped Euro-Atlantic path.

Yet, the biggest challenge for our Army during my term was in 2015, the migrant crisis. In terms of deep political divisions, everyday protests and counter-protests, when many institutions were paralyzed and many processes blocked, there was a threat that the territory of the Republic of Macedonia would be flooded by the migrant wave.

The knowledge and skills, the overall human and technical potential of the Army were challenged. During the migrant crisis, the members of the Army achieved something that larger and better equipped armies failed to do. And your only motive was the desire to protect the homeland, without disturbing the human dignity of the refugees. While protecting the homeland, the Army of the Republic of Macedonia also protected Europe from the threat of illegal migration. Thanks to the Army, at least during that decisive period, the Republic of Macedonia was the most sovereign state in Europe.

The Army successfully and diligently faced all the challenges and fully justified my trust and the trust of the Macedonian citizens.
Therefore, I will repeat that it is an honor to be the Supreme Commander of the Army with an unbreakable spirit. And that should not surprise anyone.

It should not be forgotten that you are the heirs of the Macedonian fighters who were guided by pure motives and just goals. We have no dark spot in the history to be ashamed of and apologize for. The Macedonian fighters fought for freedom and human justice and have always been on the right side of history.
The Ilinden fighters fought against slavery and tyranny.
The partisans fought against fascism and Nazism.
You, the members of the modern Army of the Republic of Macedonia, are fighting against the threat of violent extremism and global terrorism. You fight for protection against the consequences of illegal migration.

ARM2Distinguished attendees,

There are two words that we in the Republic of Macedonia rarely hear because it is even harder to pronounce them. These are the words: thank you. Freedom, statehood, independence, the peaceful dream of our children seems to be taken for granted. We seem unaware that there is an entire army of people who have sworn to defend these hard-won values at the cost of their own lives. And it is precisely those people and that institution that deserve our appreciation more than many other. This is the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. These are its former and current soldiers, officers, generals and chiefs of General Staff.

And therefore, as President and as Supreme Commander, in the name of the Macedonian citizens, I thank the Army of the Republic of Macedonia.
I thank you for being the sovereign guarantor of territorial integrity and independence of the Republic of Macedonia.
I thank you for being the neutral guardian of our Macedonian model of coexistence and respect for diversity.
I thank the Army for being the pillar of freedom and security on which democracy and our lifestyle is based.
I thank the Army that is always trying to make that extra effort which many do not expect. And by doing so, it is a role model for our entire state and our whole society that everything is possible when it is desired.
And I thank the Army that has never left the people in the lurch. The Army of the Republic of Macedonia is always with the people, because it stems from the people.

But our gratitude should not be limited to words. Deeds are needed, especially today.
The end of the Cold War created an illusion that conflicts are almost unthinkable and armies are less necessary. Many have become prisoners of rhetoric that investing in defense is a cost rather than an investment. However, reality has a habit of disassembling the constructed illusions.

The territorial state faces new, non-territorial challenges. Modern technology, which is the source of our progress, is at the same time a source of different vectors of threats. In the past three years, we have seen only the beginning of a migrant crisis that we will face throughout our lifetimes. The threats from radicalized individuals and groups that are aimed at annulling our values and the way we want to live are increasing. There are talks again about border corrections in the Balkans, exchange of territories and populations. As if the lesson is forgotten that any plan for correction of borders in the Balkans creates a negative chain reaction. The precedents in the Balkans are used and will be used for other purposes in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Middle East, North Africa. These are serious challenges that require serious investment.

To this end, investing in defense is a priority that the government must follow. NATO recommended 2% of GDP. Due to the changed security environment, the policy makers must invest in defense, especially in several domains.

First, it is necessary to invest in education, exercises and training. Freedom is not conquered once and for all but every day and constantly. It is similar with combat readiness. It must be constantly renewed. We cannot afford the luxury of living the old glory. We established the Military Academy "Mihajlo Apostolski" on the principles of NATO's smart defense. It educates NATO and Partnership for Peace cadets. But it takes a lot more so that our soldiers can effectively fulfill their constitutional duties and make a greater contribution to the creation of world peace.

Second, it is necessary to invest in modern technology. The new hybrid threats are dangerous and have an asymmetric effect which, if not understood and prevented properly, creates serious consequences that have a cascade effect. Not accidentally, last year I pointed out that the ARM must build a system of prevention and protection of critical infrastructure. Priority is development of cyber defense and electronic warfare in a future non-linear war. In this cyber-era, the Army should defend the Macedonian cyber space.

But all trainings of the world and all modern equipment and sophisticated technology are truly beneficial only under one condition – if entrusted to people with sense of morality and dignity at the highest level; To people who guard the raised Macedonian flag of freedom with love. The main, basic resource of our Army is neither weapons nor equipment, trainings and lectures, but you, the soldiers, officers, civilians employed in the defense. You are people of blood and flesh who have your own families, neighbors, friends. Through you, the Army raises the moral of the society and encourages citizens. Each one of you depicts the situation in which the Army is.

Therefore, third and foremost, it is necessary to invest in raising the living standard of the members of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. Only this will improve their moral, because the greatest role in defense in such complex conditions is human staff. The moral of the soldiers is built and maintained through the improvement of the living standards, by taking care of the families of the members, but also by respecting the lasting attributes and values of the Republic of Macedonia.

The Macedonian soldier is modest, grateful and content with little. But exactly that is its size, and that is why it obliges us to take care even more, because we care about the soldiers, we take care of the army. And taking care of the army, we take care of the Republic of Macedonia.

Hence, as President of the Republic of Macedonia, I constantly insist on increasing the funds for the Army in order to be ready for the challenges. No army is better than its soldiers, its officers and NCOs.

We have to invest in the army. It is a task for policy-makers as well as for military leaders.

Military leadership should be immune to party and political pressures. Anyone who wants to be a military leader should be aware that he is embarking on a patchy road full of many challenges. Leadership and authority are not imposed but are deserved. Leadership and authority are built through day-to-day decisions in the field and in real situations, in the presence of subordinate soldiers and officers. Military leaders must focus on the professional and living standards of their soldiers and ask for adaptation to defend the new challenges.

This is especially important today. The rapid development of the challenges and changes in our immediate security environment requires a different type of thinking, unconventional action, innovations and technologies, and above all, courage in decision-making.

Leaders must understand cultural differences and the importance of respecting them for the success of the mission. All this along with the effect of modern technologies on the battlefield dictate the need to invest in building strategic leaders at a tactical level.

Therefore, I call upon you, Macedonian warriors, to maintain the level, to preserve the impartiality, professionalism and dedication, to continue to perform this constitutional duty with dignity.

I call upon you, the military leaders to continue your improvement, to take good care of the soldiers and to be watchful for the changes in the security environment.

Only by doing this the Army will continue to be the main driving force in the realization of the strategic goals, so that we could celebrate this great day – the Day of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia as a full-fledged member of NATO..

Having said this, at the very end, I congratulate you and thank you for your professionalism and for the discipline in carrying out the responsible task. I congratulate you and thank you for your solidarity with the citizens and the unreserved loyalty to the homeland.

Many happy returns to the Army holiday!
Long live the Army of the Republic of Macedonia!
Long live the Republic of Macedonia!