site.btaSkopje's Ambassador in Sofia: North Macedonia Is Trusted NATO Member, Ally Negotiating on EU Membership
North Macedonia is a trusted member of NATO, current chair of the OSCE, a reliable partner and an ally negotiating on membership in the European Union, Skopje's Ambassador in Sofia Aneza Rusi Popovska said in a keynote speech at a Youth Conference on "NATO's Role in Addressing Security Challenges in an Unpredictable Environment" here on Monday.
"We did experience difficulties but, despite all challenges, the Republic of North Macedonia has no secure alternative other than European integration," the Ambassador said.
"Macedonians and Bulgarians are often said to be some of the closest peoples in the Balkans. I believe that we can be the closest countries in the region," Popovska added.
She pointed out that two-way trade topped EUR 1 billion for 2022 and is expected to be as much in 2023. In her words, the two countries' business communities finds a way of cooperating. The diplomat noted the fine cooperation in the power industry and especially in green energy in which, as she put it, Bulgaria is a very successful role model, as well as cultural cooperation.
The conference, hosted by the Sofia Security Forum (SSF) with the support of NATO's Public Diplomacy Division, is taking place at Sofia's Central Military Club on Monday and Tuesday. At the forum, students and young people from North Macedonia and Bulgaria are discussing the risks and threats facing NATO, SSF President Yordan Bozhilov told BTA. The 20 Macedonian students invited to take part will meet with Defence Minister Todor Tagarev, National Assembly Chair Rosen Zhelyazkov and Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov.
Bozhilov noted the crucial significance of understanding future risks and threats to both Bulgaria and North Macedonia, the Balkan region and NATO at large.
"Our second just as important task is to enable Bulgarian and Macedonian students to get closer together, to show that the two countries must work far more actively together and overcome differences," the SSF President pointed out. In his words, this is important because of the two countries' common history but above all because of their common future. "Bulgaria and North Macedonia, as NATO member countries, have both guaranteed the fulfilment of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. This implies that if any of the two is attacked, the other will come to the rescue by all means, including military ones," Bozhilov said. In his words, politicians are not adequately realizing precisely this aspect of the two countries' NATO membership.