Secretary General stresses value of NATO-Serbia partnership in visit to Belgrade

  • 20 Nov. 2015 -
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  • Last updated: 20 Nov. 2015 12:43

Both Serbia and NATO would benefit from closer cooperation, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday (20 November 2015) after talks with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić and other senior government officials in Belgrade. Mr. Stoltenberg said his visit was part of “a fresh start” in relations between NATO and Serbia. “This is more important than ever since we face many common security challenges,” said the Secretary General. “Cooperation is a win-win. Working together keeps Serbian people safe and it keeps people in Allied nations safe too,” he said.

Mr Stoltenberg discussed NATO-Serbia relations and current security challenges in meetings with Prime Minister Vučić, Defence Minister Bratislav Gašič and Interior Minister Nebojša Stefanović. He will also meet with First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivica Dačić.

The Secretary General welcomed Serbia’s important role in building security in the Western Balkans, in Europe, and around the world. He noted that Serbia hosts thousands of refugees, promotes peace as current OSCE Chairman, and contributes to international security through its participation in United Nations and European Union mission.

Mr Stoltenberg commended Serbia’s strong commitment to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. “Normalisation and dialogue is the only way forward. I encourage both parties to continue on this path,” he said. The Secretary General further welcomed Serbia’s steps to build relations with its Balkan neighbours, promoting cooperation and integration. NATO and Serbia agreed an Individual Partnership Action Plan in January. "This offers a new opportunity to strengthen dialogue, understanding and cooperation," Mr. Stoltenberg said. He pointed to the start of a new trust fund to help Serbia safely dispose of up to 2,000 tonnes of surplus ammunition and the Secretary General announced that KFOR will fully relax the air safety zone, which has been in place since 1999.

The Secretary General will conclude his visit by delivering opening remarks at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Belgrade, where he will also take questions from students.