European Western Balkans

Stoltenberg talks to Vučić and Haradinaj, calls on calm and restraint

Press Conference NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg; Photo: NATO

BRUSSELS – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in a phone call with President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovar Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, has called on both Belgrade and Pristina to show calm and restraint and avoid any provocative statements or actions.

He has briefed them on the outcome of NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting dedicated to the Western Balkans, which was held on Wednesday, and underlined that NATO remains committed to the “security and stability of Kosovo through their UN-mandated KFOR peacekeeping mission”.

Stoltenberg has also reiterated that if the mandate of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) evolves, “NATO will have to examine their level of engagement with the KSF, and that consequences of that action will be discussed by North-Atlantic Council.

“With Haradinaj, I raised the plan to move ahead with the transformation of the KSF into an army. I stressed that such a move is ill-timed, goes against the advice of many NATO Allies, and can have negative repercussions on Kosovo’s prospects for Euro-Atlantic integration”, Stoltenberg said.

He has also talked with Vučić on the need to de-escalate current tensions, and has reminded both leaders that the EU-mediated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina remains the only way towards durable peace and stability to the region.

In a press release after the talks, Vučić has stated that he sees the creation of Kosovo Army as a danger for Serbian security and the stability of the region, and has agreed for Serbian Armed Forces to reestablish everyday contacts with KFOR.

It has been assessed during the Ministerial meeting that the new tarrifs imposed by Kosovo Government “create divisions, making EU mediated dialogue even more difficult”, while the security and stability of the Western Balkans was named as paramount to NATO.

Skopje implementation of the name deal was hailed and announced as a procedural prerequisite for Maceodnia’s accession as the 30th member of NATO, and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s journey towards Euro-Atlantic integration was also welcomed.

Stoltenberg has announced that the next meeting of NATO member countries Foreign Ministers will be held in April 2019 in Washington DC, with heads of governments meeting later that year.

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