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Vermont National Guard Delegation Visits North Macedonia

  • Published
  • By Capt. Mikel Arcovitch,
  • Joint Force Headquarters - Vermont National Guard Public Affairs

SKOPJE, North Macedonia - Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, the adjutant general for the Vermont National Guard, and a delegation of Vermont Soldiers and Airmen kicked off their visit to North Macedonia at the U.S. Embassy and Ministry of Defense in Skopje Sept. 25.

North Macedonia and Vermont have been in the State Partnership Program since the Department of Defense National Guard Bureau program began in 1993.

“This partnership is stronger than ever,” said Knight. “I look forward to seeing continued development in the next 30 years.”

The first day of the visit included meetings with the U.S. Embassy staff and a brief office call with Angela Aggeler, the U.S. ambassador to North Macedonia. Aggeler and Knight discussed the strength of the partnership, where it can and will grow, and what steps the Vermont Guard can take with the embassy to that end.

“The strength of this enduring partnership with Vermont goes beyond the military relationship, with much room for future growth and further cooperation,” said Aggeler.

The Vermont delegation next met with Lt. Gen. Vasko Gjurchinovski, North Macedonia chief of defense, and his general staff. The staff provided an update on the Army’s progress in meeting NATO standards and expectations. 

North Macedonia became a part of NATO in 2018. Since NATO accession, North Macedonia has participated in numerous large-scale NATO training exercises, including Swift Response, Defender Europe, and Immediate Response.

“I can’t replicate the experience my Soldiers get when they come here and train with multiple nations,” said Knight. “This progress, forged in our 30-plus years of friendship, is truly the example of what the possibilities are for state partnerships.”

The Vermont delegation then met with Slavjanka Petrovska, the minister of defense for North Macedonia,  and her staff. The discussion focused on future military training exercises, modernization of the force and the expansion of the civilian-to-civilian relationship between Vermont and North Macedonia. 

Knight and Petrovska discussed the hurdles they face with growth in other sectors and pledged to remain vigilant in their pursuits.

“North Macedonia is your ally, and you can rely on us. Above all, what’s most important is that members of our armed forces have forged true friendships,” said Petrovska. “Behind us are several large exercises that were really successful, and we are already in the planning for bigger and more significant joint training.”

Two years ago, Knight was joined by former Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Vermont Secretary of Commerce Lindsay Kurrle on a trip to North Macedonia. Over the summer, North Macedonia sent Ljupco Nikolovski, its agriculture minister, to Vermont to observe Vermont farms and agriculture. Both visits underscored the effort to grow the partnership outside of the military.

Knight concluded the busy day with a news conference with Petrovska, an interview with Zoran Bogatinov of MRTV out of North Macedonia, and dinner with Gjurchinovski.

“Honestly, I’ve been coming here for over 20 years, but this is really just the beginning,” said Knight. “This partnership will continue to grow well after I’ve left, and I hope we continue to be a model of what the State Partnership Program can and should look like.”