ISN SECURITY WATCH (Tuesday, 11 April 2006: 10.45 CET) – Macedonian Defense Minister Jovan Manasievski has announced that his country will end military conscription and that the army would be fully professionalized by the beginning of next year, DTT-NET.COM reported.
The Monday announcement will make Macedonia the first country in the western Balkans to end military conscription.
According to the Brussels-based news agency, new soldiers would be recruited to the Macedonian army on a voluntary basis for an initial three-month training period, after which they would then join the regular professional force.
Macedonia’s permanent representative to NATO, Nano Ruzin, told DTT.NET.COM that the country had “advanced well with reforms comparing to other countries of the western Balkan region”.
Officials said the new professional army would have around 7,000 regular soldiers and 2,500 reserve troops, with a budget of around €100,000 (US$121,000), or 2.3 to 2.6 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Minority ethnic Albanians will also represent some 20 per cent of the troops, DTT-NET.COM quoted officials as saying.
Macedonia is seeking full NATO membership and one of the conditions set by the alliance is a professional army.
Macedonia, Albania, and Croatia are hoping to receive an invitation for NATO membership when the alliance holds its 2008 summit.
(By ISN Security Watch, DTT-NET.COM)