On June 4–5 Vice Minister of National Defence Vytautas Umbrasas will go on a formal visit to North Macedonia where he will meet with Deputy Minister of Defence Bekim Maksuti and attend opening ceremony of national North Macedonia’s Exercise Decisive Strike 2019. The exercise will include a group of Lithuanian Land Force soldiers.
In the course of the visit on June 6–9 Vice Minister V. Umbrasas will take part in the annual GLOBSEC 2019 Bratislava Forum in Slovakia. During the event Vice Minister will see State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of Slovakia Róbert Ondrejcsák to discuss bilateral security cooperation.
During the visit to North Macedonia NATO and European Union integration and regional security will be addressed, as well as opportunities for strengthening bilateral cooperation. Lithuanian soldiers in Exercise Decisive Strike 2019 are assigned to the U.S. Pennsylvania National Guard. The exercise enhances and trains interoperability of NATO allies and NATO partners.
The GLOBSEC Bratislava Forum annually attracts over a thousand politicians, businessmen and creators from 70 countries to discuss global issues and look for solutions together.
North Macedonia has been a EU candidate since 2005. The country has been implementing its NATO Membership Action Plan since 1999. The unsolved issue of its official name had prevented the country from attaining its EU and NATO membership goals until the turning-point last year – on June 17 a bilateral agreement was signed in Prespa which opened the door for the country’s further integration. On 9 February 2019 the North Atlantic Treaty Accession Protocol was signed in Brussels for the Republic of North Macedonia which has to be ratified by all members of the Alliance.
Slovakia has an officer at the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) in Vilnius. Soldiers of Lithuania and Slovakia train in joint military exercises (e.g., Tobruq Legacy). Slovakia and other countries of the Visegrad Group contribute to the security of the Baltic region by deploying rotational units, troops and equipment to the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion. Also, Slovakia made available its L-39 flight simulator for pilot training.