NATO Secretary General underscores importance of stability in the Western Balkans at the start of his visit to the region
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg started his four-day visit to the Western Balkans this week (19 - 22 November 2023) in Bosnia-Herzegovina, stating that “NATO has been committed to Bosnia-Herzegovina for many years. Your security matters for the Western Balkans region and it matters for Europe”.
In his remarks with the Chairwoman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Borjana Krišto, the Secretary General said that “Allies strongly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina.” He expressed concerns about secessionist and divisive rhetoric, and malign foreign interference including from Russia, that threatens to undermine stability and hamper reforms. He called on “all political leaders to preserve unity, build national institutions, and achieve reconciliation”.
The Secretary General underlined NATO’s deepening political and practical cooperation with Boznia-Herzegovina, including through NATO Headquarters Sarajevo that supports the EU-led Operation Althea, and a new defence capacity building package that will help strengthen Bosnia-Herzegovina’s capabilities in crisis management, cyber defence, and countering terrorism. Mr Stoltenberg visited NATO Headquarters Sarajevo where he thanked Brigadier General Pamela McGaha and NATO staff for supporting peace and stability in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Mr Stoltenberg also met the High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, where he praised the “excellent cooperation” with his office. “We want to see a peaceful country at the heart of a stable region, and your efforts as High Representative are vital to the unity and to the reconciliation of this country,” he said.
The Secretary General will continue his visit to the region, travelling to Kosovo today for meetings with Ms Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu and Mr Albin Kurti. On Tuesday, Mr Stoltenberg will meet President Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister Ana Brnabić in Serbia. Later that day, he will travel to the Republic of North Macedonia to meet President Stevo Pendarovski and Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski. On Wednesday, the Secretary General will participate in a meeting with Allied leaders from Albania, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Slovenia.