Stoltenberg says that NATO will do its best to guarantee the stability of the Western Balkans

Jens Stoltenberg/Photo EPA-EFE/Robert Ghement

Security issues, above all the developments in the Middle East and Ukraine, will be the main topics of the two-day meeting of the NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, the Secretary General of the Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said today before the beginning of the meeting, adding that in addition to these issues, he will become a word about the global challenges of the Pact, primarily related to China, Sweden's membership, as well as the situation in the Western Balkans.

- I recently returned from a visit to the region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia and met with the leaders of the region. What we see there is rising tensions, inflammatory rhetoric in BiH, serious incidents of violence in Kosovo, including an attack on NATO peacekeepers, in which NATO soldiers were wounded, some of them seriously, as well as the incident in Banjska, during which three people were killed, said Stoltenberg.

According to him, as reported by the MIA correspondent from Brussels, these are serious incidents and NATO must remain focused on the Western Balkans.

- NATO will do everything necessary to maintain and guarantee the stability of the region, because it is not only important for the Western Balkans, but also for the whole of Europe and NATO. We are based there, we are working with EU forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we have a presence in Kosovo and in the shadow of rising tensions we have sent 1.000 additional troops. We will continue to work with allies and partners in the region to prevent escalation, Stoltenberg said.

He welcomed the extension of the humanitarian pause in the conflict in the Middle East, stressing that it would allow much-needed relief for the people of Gaza, the release of more hostages, and the distribution of humanitarian aid.

- We will also refer to the situation in Ukraine, where we see an intensification of clashes and a storm of drone attacks on Ukrainian cities. That makes the need for our support to Ukraine even greater, Stoltenberg emphasized.

He welcomed the announcements of aid to Ukraine by Germany in the amount of eight billion euros and by the Netherlands in the amount of two billion euros, the establishment of a training center for Ukrainian pilots to operate F-16 aircraft in Romania, the sending of additional air defense and the formation of the Air Defense Coalition for Ukraine by 20 members of the Alliance.

Stoltenberg emphasized that the ministers at the meeting will confirm NATO's long-term support for Ukraine, announcing that the head of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmytro Kuleba, will also participate in tomorrow's first session of the NATO-Ukraine Council at the level of foreign ministers.

He emphasized that despite some predictions at the beginning of Russia's aggression against Ukraine that Russian forces would be in Kiev in a few weeks, this did not happen, but on the contrary, Ukrainian forces liberated half of the occupied territory at the beginning of the invasion.

- It is our obligation to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs. It will be a tragedy for Ukrainians if (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin wins, but it will also be a danger for all of us. It will send a message to authoritarian leaders, not only in Moscow but also in Beijing, that by violating international law, you can attack another country and use force to get what you want, Stoltenberg said, adding that therefore The US and all NATO allies must continue their support for Kiev.

Regarding the Swedish membership in NATO, Stoltenberg pointed out that he hoped that at this meeting Sweden would become a full member of NATO, but that this did not happen, but he welcomed the start of the process of ratification of the Stockholm admission protocol in the Turkish Parliament and expressed hope that it will end as soon as possible

- It will be good for all of us, for Sweden, for NATO, for Turkey, if we have Sweden as a semi-legal member, added Stoltenberg.

The NATO Secretary General emphasized that Ankara has legitimate security concerns related to terrorism, reminding that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is not only declared a terrorist organization in Turkey, but also in other countries, so the allies must work together to eliminate that serious threat. Turkish concern.

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