Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska today attended a NATO ministerial meeting, in the capacity of a silent invitee, after NATO prepared an accession protocol for Macedonia, which has so far been ratified by Greece and Slovenia.

Sekerinska quoted Churchill to say that this is “the end of the beginning” and expressed her gratitude to be allowed to sit at the meeting.

The Alliance can count on us, as a full member, to be capable and prepared to give our contribution to the collective mission to protect and defend our shared democratic values, she said.

Sekerinska promised that Macedonia will increase its military budget, which is currently barely over 1 percent of GDP, to the requisite 2 percent over a period of years. She used the name “Republic of North Macedonia” to refer to her country during the ministerial.

The open doors for the Republic of North Macedonia are proof that the NATO Alliance is a dynamic, forward looking institution which can withstand the modern challenges, as it did 70 years ago. The Republic of North Macedonia is with you and I look forward to our shared future, said Sekerinska.

During the meeting she met with the defense ministers of Bulgaria, Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as with Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis, who said that he discussed ways to increase defense cooperation and promised that Greece will help Macedonia integrate into NATO. Greece blocked Macedonia’ NATO membership in 2008, over the name dispute, and maintained this position until the Prespa treaty was forced through both Parliaments earlier this year.