United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to North Macedonia, which comes at an exceptionally important time for the country, reaffirms the friendship between the U.S. and North Macedonia, a friendship based on common values for peace, freedom and democracy, President Stevo Pendarovski said after Friday’s meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State in Ohrid.

The United States has been our strategic partner since our independence, and US support has been crucial in defense reform and the transformation of our Army in order to meet the criteria for NATO membership. Through development programs, the United States has helped us strengthen institutions, the rule of law, judiciary reforms, strengthen the civil sector and the media, as well as support for favorable business climate for trade between the two countries, the President said.

President Pendarovski thanked for the continued US support during times when the country was resolving difficult issues of internal stability, as well as reaching a compromise over the decade-long name dispute in the spirit of good neighborly relations and regional cooperation.

North Macedonia will continue to work closely with the United States. I believe that increased US support is needed in the coming period, in which North Macedonia should become the 30th member of NATO and start accession negotiations with the European Union, President Pendarovski said.

Secretary Pompeo thanked for the warm welcome in Macedonia that he is visiting as part of his visit to Italy, Montenegro and Greece. He reiterated that US support for deepening friendship between the two countries will continue in the future, which is important not only for Macedonia but also for the stability and security of the entire region.