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European Western Balkans
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NATO Foreign Ministers discussed security situation in the Western Balkans

Photo: NATO

BRUSSELS – NATO Foreign Ministers concluded two days of meeting on Wednesday, addressing support for Ukraine, preparations for the Washington Summit, and pressing security challenges, including the Western Balkans.

The EU High Representative Josep Borrell called Belgrade and Pristina to show the will to clear their European path through agreements. “We call Serbia and Kosovo to increase their will to work on agreements in order to clear their European path”, Borell told reporters.

He stressed the importance of the cooperation between the EU and NATO in Kosovo and the north of Kosovo.

“Our EULEX mission is being deployed in strong cooperation with KFOR as we have been facing difficult moments, troubled times. And we will continue ensuring the stability and security of this part of Kosovo, on the border with Serbia”, Borell said.

United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said that no one wants to return to conflict in the Western Balkans region. He emphasized that the Alliance has a key role in helping the countries in the region to progress on their way to membership in the European Union and wider European stability.

“NATO has long represented the backbone of security in the Western Balkans. That will continue”, Blinken said.

The German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, announced that next Germany will provide up to an additional 150 soldiers for KFOR. She said that there are actors who are out to destabilize the situation in the region.

“This is a true situation on the Kosovo-Serbia border, but also the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Not only NATO, but especially the EU is one of the guarantors of security in the Western Balkans. The EU is our life insurance policy. NATO ensures our security in the European area. That’s why dialogue and cooperation are so crucial”, Baerbock said.

Six EU and NATO members call for start of accession talks with BiH

Foreign ministers of Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Italy, Slovakia, and Slovenia met on Wednesday on the sidelines of a NATO ministerial meeting and called for the opening accession negotiations talks with Bosnia and Herzegovina by the end of this year.

The same six countries and Austria, which is not a NATO member, sent a joint letter to the EU’s High Representative a month ago, in which they also requested the opening of accession talks with BiH.

Croatian Foreign Minister, Gordan Grlić-Radman, said that the meeting was held in order to pay additional attention and emphasize the strategic importance of opening accession talks with BiH for the sake of the stability and security of Europe.

“In the current geopolitical context, any delay in the start of the accession negotiations could further increase instability in the region and result in the loss of positive momentum”, he said.

He emphasized that enlargement “is not a choice among candidate countries, but a common strategic interest that will bring much-needed stability and security to the European continent”. Grlić Radman added that any other decision by the heads of state or government at the summit scheduled for 14 and 15  December and would be bad for stability and security and that no one would profit from it.

The European Commission published a report on the progress of the candidate countries. Bosnia and Herzegovina received a conditional recommendation, that is, the Commission recommended the opening of accession talks once the country achieves a sufficient degree of compliance with the required criteria. The final decision requires the unanimous support of all the heads of state or government of the member states.

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