U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived at Skopje International Airport where he was welcomed by Defense Minister of Macedonia, Radmila Shekerinska and U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Jess Baily.
“The U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived for an official visit to Macedonia, to personally show the support from the United States. This is the first visit by an American Defense Secretary in 14 years. For the first time in history – a second meeting with a man on such a key position in the U.S. Administration with a Macedonian counterpart, all in the same year. It speaks volumes of the efforts and the personal dedication of Mattis for Macedonia’s NATO accession. Strong support that we highly appreciate,” said Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska on her official Facebook page.
Foreign agencies and news outlets have published some of the interviews with Mattis during his flight to Macedonia.
The Secretary claimed that “pro-Russian groups are actively working to undermine the referendum, with Moscow trying to buy off individuals and spreading disinformation.”
“No doubt that they have transferred money and they are also conducting broader influence campaigns,” Mattis said.
“We’re just looking at how do they shape their own future… not shaped by someone else,” Mattis told a small group of reporters en route to Skopje, slamming the Russian efforts to use their finances and create an opposition for the upcoming referendum.