Joint press conference
with NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, Mr Ditmir Bushati
Thank you for the warm welcome.
It is a great pleasure to be in Tirana.
When you were in Brussels last week for the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, we addressed issues including:
- Russia’s violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty;
- Russia’s aggressive action near the Sea of Asov
- and the Western Balkans.
We have stepped up our practical and political engagement in the Western Balkans, because NATO is strongly committed to this important region.
NATO fully supports the EU-sponsored dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
It remains the only way to bring durable peace and stability to the region.
We count on Albania to use its influence to support this process.
And encourage both Belgrade and Pristina to show calm and restraint.
Today, we discussed the Kosovo Security Force and the plan to transform it into an army.
The Secretary-General stressed in his recent conversation with Mr Haradinaj that he deems such a move ill-timed and that it could have negative repercussions on Kosovo’s prospects for Euro-Atlantic integration.
He reiterated that should the mandate of the Kosovo Security Force evolve, NATO will have to examine the level of our engagement with the Kosovo Security Force.
At the same time, the Secretary-General also spoke with Serbian President Vučić on the need to de-escalate current tensions.
Next year is the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO.
And we will mark ten years since Albania joined the NATO family.
In that decade, we have shown that having Albania in NATO makes us all safer and more secure.
Minister, I want to thank you for Albania’s commitment to our Alliance – including your contributions to NATO missions and operations, from Afghanistan to Kosovo.
I look forward to continuing our work together.