Stoltenberg Meets Allied Leaders From Western Balkans, Concludes Tour Of Region

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Allied leaders from the Western Balkans in Skopje on Wednesday (22 November 2023). Hosted by Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski of North Macedonia, the meeting was attended by Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania, President Zoran Milanović of Croatia, and Prime Minister Milojko Spajić of Montenegro. 

The leaders discussed strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence, growing geostrategic competition, NATO’s continued support to Ukraine, and the situation in the Western Balkans.

The meeting marked the end of Mr Stoltenberg’s four day visit to the Western Balkans, where the Secretary General met with leaders from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and North Macedonia. “In every stop, I made clear that stability in the Western Balkans depends on all sides choosing dialogue and diplomacy over conflict and chaos,” he said.  “This region is strategically important to NATO but there are reasons for concern,” said the Secretary General. 

He also stressed that ending secessionist rhetoric would boost stability and enable reforms in Bosnia-Herzegovina and he called for Belgrade and Pristina to reengage with the EU-facilitated dialogue. “The latest proposals for the establishment of the association of Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo could be an important step forward,” he said, adding that, “it is time to overcome regional conflicts that have continued for far too long.”

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