The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) praises U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on his first visit to the Balkans to underscore America’s commitment to NATO enlargement for the region at the U.S.-Adriatic Charter Summit in Montenegro. UMD urges Vice President Pence and the Trump Administration to dedicate all diplomatic resources to ensure Macedonia becomes NATO’s 30th member as soon as possible.
The Summit is co-hosted by the governments of Montenegro, as well as Macedonia, and will include a bilateral meeting between Vice President Pence and Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. UMD is confident this meeting, as well as the Summit, will help showcase Macedonia’s commitment to joining NATO, U.S. support for Macedonia’s NATO membership, and strengthen the growing relationship between the U.S. and Macedonia.
It has been over a decade since a high-level member of the U.S. administration has paid an official visit to Macedonia; U.S. President in 1999, U.S. Secretary of State in 2001, and U.S. Secretary of Defense in 2007; no U.S. Vice President has visited Macedonia. UMD believes that now is the time for this to change. With a new government in both Macedonia and the U.S., and Russia actively contributing to destabilizing activity in the Balkans, we believe it is long overdue for a high-level member of the U.S. executive to emphatically reaffirm the U.S.-Macedonia strategic partnership through an official visit. The Congressional Caucus on Macedonia and Macedonian-Americans together with 32 members of Congress recently stressed this in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
While the U.S.-Adriatic Charter Summit is taking place, in Macedonia, the Regimental Engineering Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army is currently in Macedonia conducting joint exercises for ten days with the Macedonian Army as a part of Dragoon Guardian, which is an offshoot of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a NATO mission involving the US and Europe in a combined effort to strengthen bonds of friendship and to deter aggression.
Macedonia has contributed greatly to U.S.-led missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, and the U.S. has awarded 120 medals to Macedonian soldiers. In Afghanistan, Macedonia was the fourth and fifth largest contributor per capita. Macedonia who meets the requirements to join NATO has been vetoed from becoming a NATO member by Greece since 2008, violating the 1995 United Nations Interim Accord.