Macedonia made significant progress regarding the implementation of NATO standards, and 2007 will be crucial for all countries seeking rapid membership to the Alliance.
This was said on Friday in Skopje by NATO Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning, John Colston, after his meeting with Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
"NATO and allies are impressed by the steps of Macedonian Government in crucial areas, defence, judiciary, police and economy", said Colston.
He added that NATO praises Macedonia's commitment to participation in international peacekeeping operations and Macedonia's contribution in Afghanistan, Iraq and Bosnia.
NATO also commends Macedonia's positive contribution to regional security and stability, both through practical support of KFOR mission and through constructive political attitude with Pristina and Belgrade.
Colston said that "2007 will be very important year for the countries that are seeking early invitation to join the NATO alliance."
"It is important to show constant progress in key areas of reforms that are going to be important this year", Colston said.
Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said that the Government has presented its activities and the activities of the NATO coordinative body, headed by himself, on preparations for membership to the Alliance.
The Prime Minister pointed the cases from the area of combat against crime and corruption that the Government worked on in the last months and shown eagerness to solve.
"This year we will finish the remaining reforms in the defence, police and other sectors, because this year is crucial for our entry to NATO", said Gruevski.
"After the Riga summit, all is in our hands", says the Prime Minister.
Implementation of the Framework agreement and regional issues, including the Kosovo one, were also discussed by Gruevski and Colston.