Macedonia to join EU Battle Group exercise

23/05/2014

Macedonia will take part in the military manoeuvres Rampant Lion 2014 in Belgium.

By Biljana Lajmanovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 23/05/2014

photo

A Macedonian mechanised infantry unit will participate in the EU Battle Group military exercise Rampant Lion 2014. [AFP]

Macedonian soldiers will be among those participating in an EU Battle Group exercise next week in Belgium. The 150 Macedonian soldiers join 2,900 soldiers from Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Luxembourg and Belgium in the exercise that begins Monday (May 26th).

The EU Battle Group will evaluate the soldiers' abilities, and they will then be placed in stand-by readiness status for speedy deployment in the second half of 2014.

Macedonia will deploy a mechanised infantry unit, staff officers and a national support element in the exercise, said Defence Minister Talat Xhaferi.

"By participating in the EU Battle Group, Macedonia shows a serious political readiness to contribute to the joint security and development of peace and democracy in Europe," Xhaferi told SETimes.

Xhaferi also said participation is significant in order to introduce and implement the EU forces' procedures and practices in the Macedonian military.

Macedonia is participating in EU Battle Group exercises for the second time. It joined Germany, Austria, Ireland, Croatia and the Czech Republic in the military exercise in late 2012.

The costs of participating in the exercise are minimal while the benefits are many, said Colonel Metodi Hadzi-Janev, a professor at the Military Academy in Skopje.

"The military wisdom in Macedonia gets an opportunity to be 'updated,' to view how the partner countries implement operational planning in the future EU missions and, accordingly, identify lessons that should be implemented," Hadzi-Janev told SETimes.

Hadzi-Janev added that on a tactical level, the exercise is an opportunity to repeat procedures and exchange experiences.

"Additionally, these events build up the rating and create a network of like-minded operational forces that act in the same direction," he said.

Hadzi-Janev said Macedonia is reaping benefits regarding its internal security by fortifying the concept of collective security that it has to adopt, regardless of its position in the international partnership organisations.

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Participation in the EU Battle Group is open to non-EU-member countries once they become operational with the EU forces.

Croatia was included prior to becoming an EU member, while Turkey also participates.

The 2013 EU screening report on Montenegro said the country is willing to build capacities and capability with the aim to actively participate to EU Battle Groups.

What can the EU do to assist military integration of candidate member states? Share your opinion in the comments section.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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