Feature 16 Aug 17

Macedonia’s Battered Army Eyes Future With More Hope

Poorly paid and badly equipped, Macedonian soldiers celebrating the army's 25th anniversary hope for better days, as the country’s new government rekindles hopes of joining NATO.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Macedonian soldiers in Iraq. Archive photo: US Army

Often lacking such basic equipment as uniforms and boots, and with wages below the national average salary, soldiers and officers of the Macedonian Army, ARM, are preparing to mark its 25th anniversary on Friday, August 18 without much enthusiasm.

”It is not a particularly joyous occasion, in truth,” one army officer called Jove who was unwilling to reveal his full identity, said.

“We feel neglected ... With the shrunken [defence] budget, there is barely any money to maintain equipment, yet alone modernize it, or pay for higher salaries and better working conditions,” he added.

“Last year, we received new uniforms but most of us got one set instead of the two that are needed for winter and summer conditions ... Our boots need replacing every six months but are sometimes two or three years old. We repair them ourselves or, as I did, buy new ones on our own.”

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