In response to the Macedonian government's appeal for assistance, Israel will ship emergency firefighting equipment to help extinguish fires caused by the severe heat wave sweeping the country.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to send aid to the Republic of Macedonia to help in its battle against the extensive fires rampant in the country, caused by the extreme heat wave that has swept over Southern Europe in the past few days.
Upon receipt of the Macedonian government's appeal to neighboring friendly governments for assistance in extinguishing the fires, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni and MFA Director-General Aharon Abramovitch responded immediately, making Israel one of the first countries to send emergency assistance. Israel will supply Macedonia with protection kits for firefighting and rescue personnel, breathing kits and high-temperature firefighting suits.
The Republic of Macedonia (formerly the Republic of Yugoslavia) is a small country with a population of about two million. The country has relatively low resources, and since gaining independence has been contending with difficult challenges in an attempt to stabilize a free market economy and to integrate itself into the European Region and to NATO.
Macedonia is currently struggling to promote and implement economic and social reforms and to strengthen its democratic system of government. The Macedonian government is partly comprised of young leaders who returned to their homeland after completing their studies in the West with the aim of assisting in the transition from a Communist system of government to a legislative democracy, and in making the country attractive to foreign investors.
Macedonia has been a staunch supporter of Israel in international forums since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1995, expressing solidarity at every opportunity. Branko Crvenkovski, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia, visited Israel in 2005 and was the last foreign head of state to meet with Prime Minister Sharon before his illness. Several Israeli companies operate in the Macedonia, predominantly in the nutritional and electronic fields.