European Western Balkans

Stoltenberg in Tirana and Skopje: NATO is building a better future for the region

Jens Stoltenberg; Photo: NATO

TIRANA / SKOPJE – Albania has been a committed and highly valued NATO Ally, and North Macedonia already has a seat at NATO’s table, was the key message the NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg delivered in his official visit to Albania and North Macedonia.

This two-day visit began on Sunday, June 2 in Tirana, where Stoltenberg met with President, Ilir Meta, Prime Minister Edi Rama and Minister of Defence, Olta Xhaçka.

Olta Xhaçka and Jens Stoltenberg; Photo: NATO

In his speech, he pointed out that Albania has been a committed and highly valued NATO Ally, but that NATO is also committed to the security of Albania.

“Through hard work and dedication, Albania is setting an example in promoting peace and stability in the Western Balkans. The European Commission has recommended that the EU open accession talks with Albania. It is important that this progress continues,” stated Stoltenberg.

Also, the European Commissioner Johannes Hahn commentated on his Twitter account the visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Albania and North Macedonia by saying that it is timely and well-coordinated visit, and that “joining the EU and NATO is based on the same values and principles.”

On the other hand, Stoltenberg mentioned protests that took place in Albania and explained that political violence contradicts democratic values.

Joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama

“It is absolutely unacceptable. So I call on all political actors to behave responsibly and with restraint. And to show the political consensus necessary for continued Euro-Atlantic integration, and to resolve any difference through dialogue and established political processes. Because this contributes to a better future for the people of Albania, and for the whole region,” said NATO Secretary General.

Later on, Stoltenberg met with the President of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, Talat Xhaferi, where Secretary General congratulated the people of North Macedonia for courage and determination, but also for taking the difficult steps necessary to solve the name issue that has held the country back for too long.

On his second day of the visit, Stoltenberg together with the North Atlantic Council (NAC), paid an official visit to Skopje where he met with the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia.
He reiterated NATO membership of North Macedonia is important for the country, but it is also important for the region and for the whole Alliance that NATO is now moving forward towards having 30 members.

“We can already see the benefits for North Macedonia, of the membership, because investments in North Macedonia have increased three-fold over the last year and this shows that security provides the foundation for prosperity, also for the country,” explained Stoltenberg.

At the joint press conference Stoltenberg and the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev sent a joint message that this is a historic moment for the country and for the whole Alliance.
“The meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Skopje is a huge encouragement for North Macedonia and for its path towards Euro-Atlantic integration,” said Zaev.

Jens Stoltenberg and Edi Rama; Photo: NATO

The Prime Minister also said that together with NATO, North Macedonia is building a better future.

“North Macedonia already has a seat at NATO’s table. NATO membership will bring greater security and prosperity for all the people of North Macedonia. You will take part in developing the NATO policy. Your voice will be as important in the decisions we make as that of any other NATO Ally. To keep our countries safe, secure and prosperous,” concluded Stoltenberg.

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