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NATO Secretary General Concludes Western Balkan Tour with Key Meeting in Skopje

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, following a meeting in Skopje, North Macedonia, with leaders from four Western Balkan NATO allies, emphasised the strategic importance of Southeastern Europe to the alliance. He noted that the region currently faces no direct armed threats to its member states.

Stoltenberg highlighted the need to halt secessionist rhetoric to enhance stability and foster reforms in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He urged Belgrade and Pristina to reengage in the EU-mediated dialogue. This meeting concluded his four-day tour of the Western Balkans.

Addressing the challenges in the region, Stoltenberg pointed out the secessionist threats in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the delicate security situation in Kosovo, and the stagnant normalization process between Belgrade and Priština. He also raised concerns about external authoritarian influences, like Russia, attempting to destabilize democracies through cyber and hybrid threats.

Stoltenberg underscored the significance of dialogue and diplomacy for peace and stability in the Western Balkans at each stop of his visit.

President Zoran Milanović found the discussions on regional security, Ukraine, and the Middle East fruitful. He supported a proposition by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama to create a Southeast Europe forum, which would include non-NATO nations such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Serbia.

Milanović noted the potential of this initiative to build on the decade-long Brdo-Brijuni Process, highlighting its success in facilitating calm and productive dialogue. Stoltenberg expressed his willingness to consider the proposal.

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