3 Things to Know: The U.S.-North Macedonia Defense Relationship

March 7, 2019 | BY C. Todd Lopez

The burgeoning military-to-military relationship between the United States and North Macedonia, continued U.S. commitment to the mutual defense of Europe and North Macedonia’s impending accession into the NATO alliance were among the topics discussed in a meeting at the Pentagon between Defense Minister of North Macedonia Radmila Sekerinska and Katie L. Wheelbarger, the U.S. acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

Here are three things to know about the U.S.-North Macedonia relationship:   

It’s a Long-Standing Partnership

North Macedonia and the Vermont National Guard have worked together since 1993 under the National Guard Bureau’s State Partnership Program. In 1995, North Macedonia joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace initiative. Today, North Macedonia is a strong contributor to the NATO missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo. Its military also is a partner in regional initiatives to enhance cooperation and security in the Western Balkans, which includes Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. North Macedonia is increasing defense spending, with a clear plan to invest 2 percent of its gross domestic product in defense by 2024, in line with the level agreed upon by all NATO members.

An American soldier checks a Macedonian soldier's rifle during an exercise.
Rifle Check
U.S. Army Sgt. Michael McMurphy, a team leader with the 110th Military Police Company, attached to the Regimental Engineering Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, checks the weapon of North Macedonia army 2nd Lt. Taulant Arifi, platoon leader of Pioneer Platoon, Engineering Battalion, at Krivolak Training Area, North Macedonia, Aug. 1, 2017.
Photo By: Army Pfc. Nicholas Vidro
VIRIN: 170801-A-XO050-0038
American soldiers observe a North Macedonian soldier placing mortar in mortar tube during an exercise.
Mortar Load
Soldiers with the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, observe a North Macedonia army soldier firing a 120 mm mortar system at the Krivolak Training Area in North Macedonia, Aug. 3, 2018.
Photo By: Army Capt. Ed Alvarado
VIRIN: 180803-A-JV122-001

More Cooperation is on the Horizon

Moving forward, the United States is committed to increasing partner capacity with North Macedonia and regional integration for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief events -- one of the greatest challenges facing Western Hemisphere nations.

North Macedonia’s NATO Accession

At the alliance’s summit in July, the 29 NATO nations invited North Macedonia to start its membership accession process to join NATO. Once all 29 NATO allies ratify the accession protocol, North Macedonia will become the alliance’s 30th member. The United States, along with NATO allies and partners, are supporting efforts by countries like North Macedonia to achieve peace and prosperity for their people, to chart their own course, and to build the resilience necessary to resist Russian influence and meddling, Pentagon officials said. The U.S. supports North Macedonia’s efforts to achieve full Euro-Atlantic integration, implement judicial reforms, strengthen its democratic institutions, combat corruption and develop a competitive free-market economy, they added.

Two women walk down a hallway with a group of people behind them.
Wheelbarger and Sekerinska
Kathryn Wheelbarger, the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, walks with Minister of Defense of the Republic of North Macedonia Radmila Sekerinska at the Pentagon, March 6, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith
VIRIN: 190306-D-SV709-0015C