Opening remarks

by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Meeting of the Council in Foreign Ministers’ Session with the Foreign Ministers of Finland and Sweden, and the EU High Representative

  • 01 Dec. 2021 -
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  • Last updated: 01 Dec. 2021 12:30

(As delivered)

Good afternoon, I think we are ready to start again.
And welcome to all of you. 

And a special welcome to our partners, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto from Finland and Minister Ann Linde from Sweden.  
And then, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union.

So it's great to have you all here.
And the issue we're going to address today with our close partners is the Western Balkans. 

The Western Balkans is at the heart of Europe. 
And it is an important region for NATO and for the European Union. 

We are witnessing worrying developments. We are concerned by the divisive rhetoric in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Tensions remain between Belgrade and Pristina. Reforms are stalling. And foreign actors have increased their malign influence.

At the same time, we must not forget that we have come a long way since the 1990s. We have ended brutal wars. And countries in the region have joined both the European Union and NATO. 
NATO and the European Union are working closely together, for the benefit of the region. Not least in Kosovo and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where NATO and the EU work hand in hand. 

And this ends the public part of this meeting. And I thank the media for joining us at the beginning. The meeting will continue shortly.