General Hodges: Sir, thank you very much for the opportunity to be here. I also want to say welcome to the members of the media. Professional journalists, the role that you play in a democratic society is essential, it is an important part of the fabric of who we are, so I welcome very much the chance to speak to the media here. I have three messages.
Number one: I am so impressed and encouraged by the talented young people that I met yesterday at the Military Academy. Young men and women who have stepped forward to become leaders, they want to become officers – very talented, very committed. Whenever I meet young people like that, men and women, it gives me inspiration, an optimism about the future. And I am going to do anything I can to support the Military Academy here in Macedonia, to support the development of young men and women who want to become officers.
Number two: I am impressed with the Chief of Defense and the other officers that I met, the Minister of Defense, the civilians that work in the Ministry, and the commitment to moving forward in the Euro-Atlantic integration of Macedonia. I think as Macedonia continues to move forward to be more fully integrated into the structures of Europe and trans-Atlantic relationships – that will improve security and stability in Europe, provide security and stability in this region, and so I am committed with U.S. Army Europe to be there every step of the way to support our Ambassador and to support Macedonia’s way forward to do that, from exercises, through exchanges, through participation. I have invited the Chief of Defense to visit us in our Headquarters in Wiesbaden, and I am going to do everything I can to make sure that we continue this path towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
My third point is that I am very proud of our Ambassador and our country team, the men and women of the United States that work in the Embassy here in Skopje. They are committed to Macedonia’s integration as well, and I am going to do everything I can to support them.