BELGRADE — NATO values its partnership with Serbia and respects the country’s military neutrality, the Commander of the NATO Joint Force Command in Naples, Admiral Stuart Munsch said during the meeting with the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić on 20 December.
Vučić and Munsch discussed the current situation in Kosovo and the cooperation between Serbia and NATO. They agreed that regular dialogue between officials from both sides is the key to strengthening mutual trust. Serbian President emphasized the importance of KFOR in maintaining a safe and secure environment in Kosovo and protecting the Serbian community, while Admiral Munsch thanked Serbia on good cooperation with KFOR, it was said in the statement by the President’s office.
Munsch visited Belgrade on Tuesday to attend the handover ceremony of the Chief of the NATO Military Liaison Office in Belgrade. Besiders meeting with the Serbian President, he was also welcomed by the Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Main topics of the meeting between Munsch and Dačić were the partnership of NATO and Serbia, situation in Kosovo, as well as other issues of regional, European and global security.
“During the meeting, both parties expressed their determination to further improve partnership cooperation in all areas of common interest, as well as satisfaction with the dynamics of political dialogue and practical cooperation in numerous areas within the Partnership for Peace program, with full respect for Serbia’s military neutrality policy,” it was said in the statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Munsch: Political dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO and Serbia contribute to regional stability
NATO will maintain close partnership with Serbia while fully respecting its orientation towards military neutrality, as this partnership benefits both sides and strengthens the stability across the region, Admiral Munsch said in an interview for Beta.
He assessed that the war in Ukraine didn’t negatively affect coordination of military relations between NATO and Serbia, while he also acknowledged “destabilizing activities” carried out by Russia in the Western Balkans region.
“I will not comment on Serbia’s political decisions, but I will say that we welcome Serbia’s support for two UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Munsch stated in the interview for Beta and added that Russia should respect “the sovereign right of each country to choose its own political and security arrangements” as NATO does.
Admiral Munsch emphasized the importance of work done by the MLO in Belgrade on promotion and expansion of partnership between Serbia and NATO and complimented the leadership of its leaving chief, Brigadier General Antonello Messenio Zanitti, in maintaining contact with civil and military partners from Serbia. He pointed out that the political and military cooperation is carried out on various levels and that the results speak of its success.
“For example, we have worked together to be more prepared for emergencies such as floods and forest fires. We are also helping Serbia to reform its security forces and institutions. NATO trains Serbian soldiers for peacekeeping missions, and we have invested millions of euros to help Serbia destroy hundreds of tons of outdated ammunition,” Munsch said in the interview for Beta.
Moreover, he explained that the Alliance works with its partners, as well as other international organizations, in fight against disinformation and propaganda. Munsch said that NATO will continue to communicate and engage with Serbian public through the media and other means of dialogue.
Commenting on the situation in Kosovo, NATO Commander assured of KFOR’s capability to ensure a safe and secure environment in Kosovo, in accordance with its mandate.
“Since October, we have been increasing our presence by adding forces, as well as patrols in the north of Kosovo this week. We expect all actors to be in close coordination with the KFOR mission and to refrain from provocative demonstrations of force, in order to preserve the safety of all communities,” Munsch stated.
He also reflected upon the security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and NATO’s increased political and practical support in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognized by the Alliance as one of the partners at risk, which called for the increase of support.
“NATO allies have agreed to increase the level of support tailored to BiH, which includes capacity building, reforms and training to improve institutions in the field of security and defense,” as Admiral Munsch explained.