13:38 GMT +316 July 2019
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    Newly elected President of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski attends his inauguration ceremony in Skopje, North Macedonia, May 12, 2019.

    New North Macedonian President Pendarovski Pledges to Prioritize NATO, EU Accession

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    BELGRADE (Sputnik) - North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski pledged on Sunday to promote the country's full membership in NATO and also make effort toward accession to the European Union.

    "Energy and potential of the whole society should be focused on strategic tasks ... I mean our Euroatlantic integration first of all, on which all political subjects have reached agreement on a rhetorical level. Meanwhile, the proposed models of its implementation are different ... As the president, I will apply all diplomatic efforts toward completing the process of our full membership in NATO. And I insist that during the entire period of negotiations on our accession to the European Union, the best minds of the country should be engaged in these talks, no matter if they are members of the opposition or non-governmental organizations, or independent experts," Pendarovski said after his swearing-in ceremony, held earlier in the day.

    He also pledged to fight corruption and improve the country's economy.

    Pendarovski, representing the ruling Social Democratic Union party and a coalition of dozens of small parties, defeated Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, backed by the main opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, in the runoff election on May 5. He secured 53.59 percent of the vote.

    The swearing-in ceremony was held in the North Macedonian parliament, based in the country's capital of Skopje. Albanian President Ilir Meta, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci, the president of the self-proclaimed republic of Kosovo, attended the ceremony, as well as foreign ministers and deputy foreign ministers from Greece, Montenegro, Poland and Turkey and foreign ambassadors.

    Pendarovski was born in Skopje in 1963. Between 1998 and 2001 he headed the analytic department of the country's Interior Ministry. He also served as presidential adviser for national security between 2001 and 2004, and 2005 and 2009. In 2014, Pendarovski ran for the presidency as a Social Democratic Union candidate but was defeated by Gjorge Ivanov. Pendarovski has recently served as the national coordinator for NATO integration.

    READ MORE: Greece, North Macedonia Establish Strategic Partnership – Reports

    The presidential election was the country's first vote after a deal between Athens and Skopje on the name change came into force, opening the door to Macedonia’s membership of the European Union and NATO. Remarkably, Pendarovski was in favour of the name change, while his rival in the presidential election, Siljanovska Davkova, opposed it.

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    EU, NATO, Stevo Pendarovski, North Macedonia
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