BRUSSELS – Following the press conference by the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the launch of his Annual Report for 2016 he spoke Monday about the Western Balkans and were answering journalists questions.
Stoltenberg pointened out that NATO has helped to keep the peace in the Western Balkans for over 20 years.
“We will continue to be a guarantor of peace and stability in the region. Because it is important for our own security,” he said.
Secretary Genearl added that they will continue to support efforts for the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkans because that is key to stability and prosperity, in the region and beyond.
“In 2016, we opened the door to Montenegro to join our Alliance and 25 Allies have already ratified the accession protocol, paving the way for Montenegro to become NATO’s 29th member,” Stoltenberg concluded.
Answering a journalist’s question if he fears that at the same time Russia will try to, to disrupt the process of Montenegro’s accession to NATO, Stoltenberg said that they have seen reports from Montenegro addressing those concerns and that they also have seen the failed coup attempt last fall and, and the fact that Russian citizens were involved in that attempt.
“For me this is not an argument against Montenegro joining NATO, for me this is an argument in favour because Montenegro has through democratic processes made a decision,” NATO Secretary General pointed out.
Montenegro wants to join NATO, 28 Allies have signed the accession protocol and almost all of them have also ratified it in the parliament and it is a sovereign right of every nation through democratic processes to decide which path it wants to choose including what kind of security arrangements it wants to be a part of, Stoltenber said.
“So any attempt to intervene or ,sorry any attempt to interfere, in such a process is undermining the sovereign right of a sovereign nation to make its own decisions and of course Montenegro has that right and I support it”, he added.
Speaking about the Annual Report, it is written that Montenegro’s membership will enhance the security of the Western Balkans region, an area of key importance to the Alliance.
“The invitation to Montenegro is a clear sign that NATO’s door remains open to those countries that want to join and that meet the criteria of membership. Work continues with other countries that aspire to join the Alliance – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – to help them prepare for NATO membership. NATO has a strong programme of cooperation with each aspiring member state to help it carry out the reforms necessary for membership,” the report states.
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