European Western Balkans

Stoltenberg: NATO Foreign Ministers to discuss Western Balkans

Jens Stoltenberg; Photo: NATO

BRUSSELS – NATO foreign ministers will discuss the security situation in the Western Balkans and the increase in the number of troops in its peacekeeping missions, Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed on Monday.

“We recently increased our presence in Kosovo by adding 1,000 extra troops. We are now assessing whether this should be a more enduring increase, and whether there is a need for any particular new capabilities. Still, we have already taken important steps by increasing our presence,” he said prior to the 2-day ministerial meeting.

The NATO Secretary General noted that he recently visited all the Western Balkans countries and met with all regional leaders. His message to them was that NATO “will do what is necessary” to maintain stability in the region because that is also “important for NATO.”

Stoltenberg urged both Pristina and Belgrade to engage in good faith in the EU-facilitated dialogue, adding that both parties must refrain from inflammatory rhetoric and from conducting actions that can further increase regional tensions.

“We also believe that the proposal for the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities could be an important step forward in moving this dialogue in a more constructive direction,” said Stoltenberg. NATO increased the number of its troops in Kosovo following the September 24 armed incident in the village of Banjska, in the north of Kosovo.

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