Lazar Elenovski was Macedonia's Minister of Defence in Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's first cabinet and held office until summer 2008. Like many ministers and cabinet members in Gruevski's outgoing government he is in his thirties. Elenovski was born into an ethnically mixed family; his father is an ethnic-Macedonian while his mother is Albanian.
He has devoted much of his political career to the process of Macedonia's integration in NATO and the EU. Elenovski was Secretary General of the Euro-Atlantic Club of Macedonia from March 2001 to December 2005. In this capacity he organised a number of campaigns promoting Macedonia's NATO and EU integration process. He was responsible for preparing the governmental Working Group's Communication Strategy for NATO membership. After the July 2006 elections, Nikola Gruevski formed a new government, in which Elenovski was appointed Minister of Defence. One of his declared aims is NATO accession:
"NATO accession is very important for Macedonia. Like for Eastern Europe: the first step, the first station on the same road was NATO, the second station was the EU. We are explaining that NATO means security but security means development."
The Macedonian army has experienced a dramatic change over the last seven years. One of the provisions of the Ohrid Agreement was that ethnic minorities should be better represented in the state administration, police force, and military. Elenovski describes how implementation of the agreement has changed the army:
"In 2002 non-ethnic Macedonians only made up five percent of the armed forces. Today they represent 30 percent of the total, which is close to the optimal level of 34 percent