Future steps after joining NATO

On 30th December 2019, an event entitled “Future steps after joining NATO” was organized by MAAA and the Union of European Federalists in North Macedonia. The main focus of the discussion was the proposal by Mr. Elmas Hasanovićto establish a NATO Center of Excellence, or regional center for crisis response in North Macedonia. Five speakers took part in the event: Mr. Elmas Hasanović, Program Coordinator of the Info Center for Euro-Atlantic integrations and a Fulbright alumni, Mr. Zećir Ramčilović, a MP and Vice-President of the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia, Mr. Pavle Trajanov, a National Coordinator for Crises Management, Mr. Petar Bogojevski, President of the Union of European Federalists in North Macedonia and Mr. Rizvan Sulejmani, a Vice Rector of Univeristy Mother Theresa in Skopje. They all stated their opinions about the directions in which the Republic of North Macedonia should move after joining NATO.

Mr. Zećir Ramčilović stressed out that all political parties should be very constructive in this extremely sensitive period for the country. According to him the Republic of North Macedoniahas a unique chance to independently decide about its future and should be focused more on developing further plans and steps after joining NATO rather than on playing political games with certain blockades in the Parliament. The National Coordinator for Crises Management, Mr. Pavle Trajanov, spoke about the need for urgent reforms in the areas of security, judiciary and the crisis management system and emphasized that the country should put more efforts in the fightagainst crime, particularly the corruption. After that, the President of the Union of European Federalists in Macedonia, Mr. Petar Bogojevski, spoke about the benefits of joining NATO and pointed out that the core issue the country should focus on for a more successful integration in NATO is the process of professionalization of the army and the administration as whole. Further more, Mr. Sulejmani spoke about the need for the government to decide and evaluate what their main aim is as a NATO member state, and he stated that a strict and effective check and balance control in the state apparatus is what the country urgently needs. Finally, Mr. Elmas Hasanović spoke about the great need for establishing a NATO Center of Excellence for Crisis Response in North Macedonia and gave several reasons for that. According to Hasanović, the country is not able to independently deal with natural disasters on a larger scale, as it was the case with the floods in 2016, or the large fires, which were mostly set on purpose almost regularly in the past few years and affected a great part of the country’s territory and put in danger the lives and property of the citizens.

“Many Balkan countries are unable to deal with natural disasters on their own. According to the International Disaster Database, over 3,000,000 people were affected between 2007 and 2017, and about 770 people lost their lives. More precisely, several devastating earthquakes have occurred in Albania since 2007 to date, there were devastating floods in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Greece, storms in Romania, Slovenia and Croatia, as well as extreme temperatures which affected the entire Balkan Peninsula. The material damage caused by natural disasters in this period was estimated to be more than $8 billion. For illustration, from 2007 to 2017, the material damage in Greece amounted to US $2.4 billion, in Serbia US $2.2 billion, in Romania 1, $2 billion, in Bulgaria about $950 million, in Bosnia and Herzegovina $500 million, and in North Macedonia approximately $150 million. Most of the Balkan countries, including North Macedonia, have small budgets and have limited resources to deal effectively with large-scale natural disasters”, Hasanović added.

According to Hasanović, previous experiences of dealing with natural disasters on the Balkans have shown that the common denominator for all the Balkan countries was solidarity, i.e. the assistance (material and non-material) provided at the most critical times. Hence, he pointed out that the needit is more than necessary that the country establishes such a center and it is in line with the NATO Alliance's goals - shared values and solidarity. Solidarity within the Alliance, both in the political and military spheres, a guarantee that no ally is forced to rely solely on its own national efforts to tackle basic security challenges. The main aspect of this center would be the first responder teams, which will be ready to deploy 24/7.Besides NATO, Hasanović stated that the CoE’s goals are in line with the EU’s foreign security and defense policy and its commitments to establish rapid reaction teams.

In the next part of his extensive talk, he mentioned numerous benefits from such a center. According to Mr. Hasanović “one of them is the creation of a modern, specialized and equipped center for crisis management. With this the life and safety of the citizens will be put above all priorities. This center will be a firm guarantee that citizens can feel safe and secure in any situation. It will promote state interests and international positioning. In addition, the NATO Center will have a positive impact on the local economy. There will be open opportunities for domestic companies to supply the needs of the center, and there will be employment opportunities for local people. In addition, companies which function in the field of hospitality and real estate will have economic benefits too, from which the state will generate income by collecting various taxes. Last but not least, the cooperation among allies will strengthen the cohesion and unity in the Alliance. Such a center, through direct cooperation and joint action in crisis situations, will have a positive impact on reducing political tensions, ethnic intolerance and cultural differences between nations on the Balkans. This, in turn, will contribute to lasting reconciliation, peace and stability.”

All speakers expressed their support of the initiative for establishing such a center in the country, and offered their expertise and assistance in its further development and implementation.

Written by Angela Dimitrovska


Bulding bridges of cooperation
between the United States and North Macedonia