Joint press point
with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: Mr. President – dear Aleksandar,
Welcome to the NATO Headquarters. It is great to see you here today.
Serbia is a long-standing partner to our Alliance.
And I thank you for your personal commitment to our partnership.
We have just had a very constructive meeting.
Today we discussed many different security challenges facing the Western Balkans.
NATO has been committed to peace and stability in the Western Balkans for decades.
And we will continue to stay committed.
Our KFOR mission is the most tangible demonstration of this commitment.
KFOR provides a safe and secure environment, and guarantees freedom of movement for the benefit of all communities in Kosovo.
Based on our United Nations Security Council mandate.
NATO Allies are firmly committed to KFOR, and to its important mission.
NATO also fully supports the normalisation process between Belgrade and Pristina.
The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is the best platform to find a solution that respects the rights of all communities.
And to build a lasting peace.
That guarantees a better and more prosperous future for all.
Constructive dialogue is key for stability in this region.
And I continue to call on all parties to engage in dialogue.
NATO is committed to building a strong partnership with Serbia.
We fully respect your neutrality.
As a sovereign nation, Serbia has the right to choose its own path.
We face common security challenges.
And partnership with NATO can bring real benefits to Serbia and its citizens, and the wider region.
We work with Serbia on the reform of your national security forces and institutions.
We train Serbian officers so they can participate better and more safely in international peacekeeping exercises.
Serbia has also worked with NATO to train Iraqi military medics.
So Mr. President, you and I took part together in NATO's biggest civil emergency exercise, which was hosted by Serbia a few years ago.
Helping NATO Allies, as well as Serbia and other partners, to become better prepared to deal with natural disasters, such as flooding and forest fires.
So our cooperation has brought real benefits.
And I look forward to our continued partnership.
So one again, Mr. President, dear Aleksandar, it is great to have you here. Welcome to NATO and welcome to this press [point]. Please, you have the floor.
Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia: Thank you very much.
Mr. Secretary General and dear friend, dear Jens, thank you for receiving us today here, in the building of NATO. This was a very important conversation for Serbian side.
As you can see, my people prepared a lot of papers, nicely done, but I would say something about our real conversation. I can say that I am very satisfied with the content of our talks. We got a lot of assurances from Mr. Stoltenberg, from the Secretary General about all security and safety issues in Western Balkans.
We had some questions about some rumors and everything else and what we got from Mr. Stoltenberg was a very clear response about necessity of keeping peace and stability in the region and focusing KFOR, NATO forces into preserving peace and stability, as I already said.
And that was something that we asked for. And I think that that will bring more calmness into the people's hearts, not only in Kosovo, and we are talking about in an entire region. That was something of an utmost significance for all of us. We discussed all different issues, important for an entire region.
And I can say that very much content with this statement of Mr. Stoltenberg which respects Serbia’s neutrality and Serbia's sovereignty. And we haven't been fostered, not to mention, forced by NATO, by Secretary General Stoltenberg, to doing something differently.
And we consider ourselves as partners. And by the end of October, beginning of November, we're going to mark the 15th anniversary of Partnership for Peace.
And I made an invitation to Mr. Stoltenberg and I hope that he'll find enough time and enough reasons to visiting Serbia at that part of the year, because I think that would be a great confirmation of our good relationship.
And that will also boost our relationship for the future, which will which will be done, I think, for the sake of, of course small Serbia and Serbian people. That's my job but I also think that would be good and properly done for the benefit of NATO as well.
We discussed, as I have already said, a lot of issues from the region and, particularly, all the issues related to Kosovo, related to Belgrade-Pristina relationship. And it was about lower airspace, it was about dialogue process and I wanted to, and I did my best to persuade, to convince Jens Stoltenberg that Serbia is fully committed, 100%, 100% dedicated, even devoted, to dialogue process and that we will do our best in reaching compromising solution. And we both know that is a process under the auspices of the EU and hopefully, hopefully we'll have both enough strength to finish the process in a positive way.
If not, we anyway need to preserve the peace and stability, which is always better than to have violence, incidents, mutinies, unrests and everything else. Once again, I wanted to say many thanks to Jens Stoltenberg, personally.
Because he has always been ready for discussing all necessary and outstanding issues with Serbia. And whenever we had any kind of problems he was open for discussion, for discussing everything with us, for considering, or reconsidering, very difficult issues from the region, always in a way to calm down, to calming down the situation and that's why I'm profoundly grateful to him personally, and to, of course, our partners from NATO.
Serbia will remain and Serbia will preserve its neutrality, but it doesn't mean that we are not going to increase the level of our common activities. To the contrary, I'm absolutely certain that we can do much more in different fields, in different spheres, and that we can cooperate much better in the future.
Once again, Mr. Secretary General, dear friend, thank you once again for your great support and hope to see you very soon in Belgrade and Serbia. Well, that’s your hometown and you are always very welcomed.
NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: So we'll start with Pink TV.
Gordana Uzelac (TV Pink): Pink TV, good evening. Gordana Uzelac. I have a question to both of you: will the United States insist on bilateral agreement with Pristina and a withdrawal of NATO forces from Kosovo and Metohija? Thank you.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: There is no change. NATO … all NATO Allies, all 30 Allies, and that of course also includes the United States, we are committed to our KFOR mission. The KFOR mission is the most tangible and concrete expression of NATO's commitment to the region. We are there to protect all communities to ensure the freedom of movement, and Allies remain committed to KFOR. This mission is based on a clear UN mandate, and then there are no changes in plans, no change in our commitment to the KFOR mission.
President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić: If I can just add, I was very satisfied getting an answer from Jens Stoltenberg. They are going to have a big meeting here on I think 16th of June or something like that, and I hope that that’ll be confirmed in their statement because that's something of a bigger significance for our country as well, not only for NATO. And everything that's been done so far under the mandate of the United Nations, and done by NATO forces was pretty much supported by our side and hopefully that will remain so. And it was, I hope so, just my misunderstandings of some official rumors, but the words of Secretary General were very much assuring me, myself, and the entire delegation that we are on a good path and that we have good possibilities in preserving tranquillity and stability of an entire region.
NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu:The next question is by Zoom and it's Marina Maksimovic from Deutsche Welle and Tanjug News Agency.
Marina Maksimovic (Deutsche Welle and Tanjug News Agency)
Hello, I have a question for President of Serbia and for Mr Stoltenberg. So President, can you tell us just was there any special subjects that you were insisting during today's meeting with the Secretary General of NATO? And for Mr Stoltenberg, is there… is it true that KFOR tendency in Kosovo and Metohija is to increase the number of soldiers coming from the NATO members from the neighborhood of Serbia and how do you see the first reactions on Serbia, namely on the Croatian announcement of enlarging their troops in Kosovo? Thank you.
President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić: All I can say is that - yes there were two or three questions on which I really insisted. I asked for support and I tried insisting on it. [inaudible] I'm not in a position to insist on anything but I insisted on questions on issues, and I got great explanations and great responses from Jens. Because he does understand the situation in the region, he does understand the situation in Serbia, he knows all our problems, even though he represents 30 countries, he knows how the problems and issues in the region should be tackled and once again I'm very thankful to him that he understood our position. I'm not going to speak about it publicly. Something about it I have already said. But there are fields, spheres and issues that we tackled that I'm not going to speak publicly, but anyway, I can tell you that I’m very much satisfied with the results. And you know that I am very proud of economic results of Serbia, being number two in Europe regarding growth rate and expecting the same results in this year; you cannot reach it without an absolute stability and peace and that was goal, target and aim number one for this discussion with Mr Stoltenberg. And we got it, thank you.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: As you know there are different NATO Allies sending troops to the KFOR mission. And it varies a bit exactly which Allies that are providing force contributions to the mission and exact numbers also vary a bit over time and between Allies. But regardless of which Ally that provides troops, they always have to operate within the same agreed mandate, and the same guidelines which are agreed by all NATO Allies, based on a very clear UN mandate. So all troops provided by NATO Allies and partner countries to our operation in Kosovo operate under well established guidelines and a well-established framework, which is set out by the United Nations, UN Resolution 1244. I welcome of course also the contributions from our NATO Ally, Croatia. And again, they operate under exactly the same mandate, the same framework as all other NATO troops and partner troops being part of KFOR. Let me also add that any change in the KFOR mission, any change in the framework has to be agreed by all 30 Allies by consensus. So, what I welcome is the commitment from NATO Allies to provide troops and to stand by and continue to support KFOR, including by sending troops to our mission.
NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu: Thank you very much. This concludes this press point. Thank you.