USA DECORATES 31 MACEDONIAN SOLDIERS
The Unites States decorated 31 members of the Macedonian Army - ARM's special operation regiment for their participation in "Iraqi Freedom" mission on monday.
Four of the members of the 11th ARM rotation in Iraqi Freedom mission received a meritorious service medals and 27 commendation medals of the US Army.
A total of 493 members of the ARM special operations regiment and joint operations command have taken part between June 2003 and December 2009 in Iraqi Freedom mission in 11 rotations. 124 have been awarded with medals and decorations.
- By participating in the Iraqi Freedom mission, the Republic of Macedonia has demonstrated that it is ready to join the coalition in the fight against today's biggest evil - global terrorism, said Minister of Defense Zoran Konjanovski in a speech delivered at the ceremony.
In addition to Iraq, Macedonia takes part also in missions in Afghanistan. Lebanon, Bosnia & Herzegovina and provides logistic support to the KFOR mission in Kosovo.
Macedonia will demonstrate its commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration, he added, by sending addition troops in Afghanistan in early 2010.
- With our contribution, Macedonia already functions as a NATO member. So we ask to be accordingly valued, not to be awarded, said Konjanovski.
ARM Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General Miroslav Stojanovski said in the past 18 years Macedonia had managed to establish a professional army that took part in NATO, EU, UN-led missions.
- The United States do not doubt that the Macedonian Army is strong, smart and ready for any mission. The country knows that the Republic of Macedonia is a close friend and an ally, said Thomas Navratil, US Deputy Ambassador.
Presenting the medals, Admiral William Brown said foreign operations had showed to the world the capacities, preparedness and determination of Macedonia for Euro-Atlantic integration.
- Macedonia is a key member in the Adriatic Group and it will play an important role in the enlargement process in the region. Macedonia continues to be a regional leader in promoting Balkan peace and stability, said Brown, adding that Macedonia and US fostered permanent partnership.