US Secretary of State Pompeo Visits Macedonia

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid on Friday an official visit to Macedonia, as part of his tour which also covered Italy, Montenegro and Greece. Pompeo, who is the first US Secretary of State to visit Macedonia after Colin Powel in 2001, arrived on Friday afternoon in Ohrid, where he was welcomed by a high governmental delegation headed by PM Zoran Zaev, FM Nikola Dimitrov and DM Radmila Sekerinska. After a short bilateral meeting, Pompeo and Zaev held a mutual press conference. “This visit of the US Secretary of State is clear indication of the support the US provides to our country and its Euro-Atlantic integrations. North Macedonia is a strategic partner to the US, and we are ready to participate in the further international initiatives combatting organised crime and terrorism and defending the peace and democratic values. This contribution of ours will significantly increase once North Macedonia becomes a full-fledged NATO member, and we are expecting the good news from US of the ratification of the NATO Protocol for Accession of North Macedonia by the US Senate. North Macedonia has become the brightest example for an improved state thanks to the vision and determination of the government. We managed to settle some of the greatest disputes with our neighbours through the Prespa Agreement and the Good-neighbourliness Agreement,” Zaev said. US Secretary of State Pompeo praised Macedonia’s progress in the processes for integration in NATO and EU. “I welcome the successfulness of the agreements you made with Greece and Bulgaria, thanks to which your membership in NATO and EU is now a real and achievable goal. The US will always support countries like North Macedonia, which want to improve democratic processes, rule of law and struggle against corruption. The country should be led by the minds and hearts of the citizens of North Macedonia, and not by Russian bots on social networks. I must also warn you about the risks of Chinese investments in sensitive technologies, and their strategies for bribing when settling for contracts,” Pompeo underlined. Later during the day, Pompeo also had a meeting with the President of Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, with whom he discussed the cooperation between Macedonia and the US in terms of military and economy. “The US support the development of our institutions through series of programmes and donations. This support was crucial for the modernisation of the Macedonian Army, which was one of the main criteria for our integration in NATO. North Macedonia shall proceed with its bilateral cooperation with the US, which at the moment, when we are about to become NATO’s 30th member-state, is more than welcome,” Pendarovski told Pompeo.