NATO Secretary General commends Croatia for Support to Euro-Atlantic aspirations of Balkan Neighbours
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to NATO Headquarters on Thursday (22 February 2018) to discuss preparations for the Summit in July and regional cooperation in the Western Balkans.
Mr. Stoltenberg thanked Croatia for its contributions to NATO, including to the battlegroups in Lithuania and Poland and to the Alliance’s missions in Kosovo and Afghanistan. He also thanked Croatia for supporting NATO partners including Ukraine.
They also discussed NATO’s adaptation. “Your efforts help to make NATO strong”, he said. “It shows that NATO is an Alliance of 29 Allies where we stand together and respond to a more challenging security environment”.
The Secretary General commended Croatia for “helping other neighbours in the Western Balkans to work on their Euro-Atlantic aspirations”. He said: “NATO’s door is open, we just enlarged last year with Montenegro and we have aspirant countries in the region and we welcome the support and efforts you make to help them”.
Mr. Stoltenberg also welcomed the fact that Croatia has stopped the cuts in defence spending and has now started to increase investments in defence. “We’ve all made a pledge in 2014 to stop the cuts, gradually increase and then move towards spending 2% of GDP on defence”, he said. “And Croatia has stopped the cuts and started to increase and we welcome that”.
The Secretary General also underlined the importance of continuing to increase defence spending when the security environment becomes more challenging and difficult.