Joint press point
by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Zoran Milanović in Zagreb, Croatia - Opening statement
that is, as I say, almost all that I remember from the Croatian language, because I spent much time in Zagreb when I was a child.
And it is great to be back in Croatia.
And it is great to meet with you Prime Minister because you are really an expert when it comes to NATO, to the importance of building a strong Alliance and I appreciate very much to meet with you here in Zagreb.
I have been here many times before, both as a child but also as a Prime Minister and Norwegian politician. But this is my first visit to Zagreb as Secretary General of NATO.
And I would like to just underline that we very much appreciate the strong commitment of Croatia to the Alliance.
The contributions from Croatia, of Croatia, to our operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan, and also the way Croatia is contributing to the collective defence, the strength of the Alliance, and this is more important than ever, because we see that the security environment is changing. To the south we see turmoil, violence, spreading across the Middle East – Iraq, Sudan, North Africa.
And we also see terrorist attacks, inspired by the violent groups and the ideologies which we see are growing in parts of the Middle East and North Africa.
And then in addition we see a more challenging security environment to the east with a more assertive Russia, using force to change borders - annexing Crimea and destabilizing eastern Ukraine.
And I appreciate to have this option to meet with you, to have also the opportunity to discuss these challenges more in detail during our lunch.
But I also agree with you that the question of the Open Door – NATO enlargement is a key issue and by the end of the year NATO will decide on whether to invite Montenegro to become a member of the Alliance.
And that is part of the efforts, part of the policies which NATO has pursued in this part of Europe for many years, and that is to build a strong Alliance, to contribute to stability, to peace that is important for south-east Europe, it is important for the whole of Europe, and it is of course also important for NATO.
So I appreciate this opportunity to be in Zagreb and to meet with you.