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UK establishes permanent military training team in Western Balkans

July 27, 2021
UK Ambassador Rachel Galloway, left, and the Defense Minister of North, Macedonia Radmila Shekerinska, shake hands after signing the agreement. — Courtesy photo
UK Ambassador Rachel Galloway, left, and the Defense Minister of North, Macedonia Radmila Shekerinska, shake hands after signing the agreement. — Courtesy photo

LONDON — The United Kingdom has set up a permanent military team in North Macedonia, marking a new level of defense cooperation with partners in the Western Balkans.

An agreement was signed on Monday in Skopje, North Macedonia, by UK Ambassador Rachel Galloway and North Macedonia's Defense Minister Radmila Shekerinska, establishing a Western Balkans land regional coordination cell, the UK government said in a press statement.

The cell will involve a small military team coordinating and channeling UK training into the region. This will focus UK capacity-building efforts and enhance cooperation between UK and partner forces in the region. It will also improve the coordination of partnered military training and enable the UK to better understand and support the training requirements of our defense partners.

The cell will be based in North Macedonia, NATO’s newest ally which joined in March 2020, and will support them and other regional NATO partners in meeting capability targets associated with NATO membership.

Commenting on the agreement, British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said: "The agreement signed today underlines the UK’s commitment to enhancing cooperation with our partners in the Western Balkans and takes our defense relationship with our friends there to a new level.

"We look forward to working closer than ever to ensure security in this important region."

The recently published defense command paper outlined that in an age of global and systemic competition, the UK's armed forces will be persistently globally engaged with partners around the world.

The paper also stated the UK’s commitment to working closely with partners in the Western Balkans to maintain and promote regional and international peace and security, demonstrated by a recent visit to Montenegro by Minister of State for Defence Baroness Goldie. — Agencies


July 27, 2021
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