European Western Balkans

NATO leaders vow to continue to strongly support Ukraine, WB officials hosted by US Senators

NATO leaders at the summit in Washington, 9 July 2024; Photo: NATO

A three-day NATO summit was opened on Tuesday in Washington by conveying the messages that the Alliance would continue to strongly support Ukraine as it faced a “pivotal moment” in the war with Russia. The leaders from the 32 member countries, as well as the heads of state and government of the partner countries are attending the events within the framework of the summit.

This NATO summit is the last one for outgoing Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. From 1 October, Mark Rutte will assume this function, as agreed by the NATO members at the end of June.

Joseph Biden: Ukraine can and will stop Putin

In a speech at the Mellon Auditorium, where the North Atlantic Treaty was signed 75 years ago, the US President Joseph Biden announced that the NATO will provide Ukraine with five new strategic air defence systems.

“The war will end with Ukraine remaining a free and independent country. Russia will not prevail. Ukraine will prevail”, Biden said.

According to Joseph Biden, (Russian President) Putin wants nothing less than Ukraine’s total subjugation, to end Ukraine’s democracy, to destroy Ukraine’s culture, and to wipe Ukraine off the map.

“We know Putin won’t stop at Ukraine. But make no mistake, Ukraine can and will stop Putin”, Biden claimed.

At the opening ceremony, Biden also surprised outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the USA, and credited him with bringing the Alliance “back to life”.

Jens Stoltenberg: The time to stand for freedom and democracy is now

Stoltenberg said that the NATO is not only the most successful and strongest, but also the longest-lasting Alliance in history.

“NATO’s enduring success has never been a given, but is rather the result of deliberate choices and difficult decisions – from NATO’s creation to arms control negotiations, and from NATO’s enlargement at the end of the Cold War to NATO’s support to Ukraine today”, Jens Stoltenberg stresses.

Stoltenberg warned that there were no cost-free options with an aggressive Russia as a neighbour, there are no risk-free options in a war.

“The biggest cost and greatest risk will be if Russia wins in Ukraine, as this would embolden President Putin but also other authoritarian leaders in Iran, North Korea, and China.  The time to stand for freedom and democracy is now; the place is Ukraine. The Alliance will continue to face difficult questions in the future, but we are stronger and safer together, in NATO”, Stoltenberg concluded.

Earlier in the day, the Secretary General met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. They discussed the decisions to be taken at the Summit to “strengthen our Alliance for the future”, including on deterrence and defence, support for Ukraine and strengthening NATO’s partnership in the Indo-Pacific region.

Upon arriving to Washington to attend the summit, Ukraine’s President Volodymir Zelenskiy said he would fight for NATO to strengthen Ukrainian air defences and furnish it with more F-16 fighter jets.

Marko Đurić met Claudia Tenney and Peter Siatro

A number of the officials from the Western Balkans are attending the events organised within a framework of the summit. Serbian Foreign Minister Marko Đurić participated, at the invitation of US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, at the accompanying event of the NATO summit in Washington, entitled: ”Women, Peace and Security”.  The meeting discussed the consequences of armed conflicts on the female population, but also the importance of the role of women in peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery of states.

Đurić also had several meetings on sidelines. He met with a Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (Republican representative from New York), Co-chair of the Serbian caucus in the US House of Representatives. It has been reported that Đurić informed Tenney about Serbia’s foreign policy priorities in the upcoming period, stressing that one of the focuses of our foreign policy will be the continuation of building quality political and economic relations with the United States.

In addition, Marko Đurić had a bilateral meeting with  the Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó. Congratulating his colleague on assuming the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Đurić expressed his expectation that the enlargement of the European family to the Western Balkans region would once again be the focus of relevant political structures on the Old Continent.

Vjosa Osmani: Kosovo continues to lead by example on the global stage

Kosovo’s President Vjosa Osmani thanked US State Secretary Blinken for his support, sharing a video of part of his speech in which Blinken says that Colombia and Kosovo have become partners of the UN agreement-Women, Peace and Security.

“Thank you, @SecBlinken and @StateGWI for the strong support! Kosovo continues to lead by example on the global stage, championing the WPS Agenda with unwavering commitment. Together with the United States and partners around the world, we’ll keep pushing forward together”, she wrote on X.

Osmani had separate meetings on the sidelines with the Croatian President Zoran Milanović, and the Prime Ministers of Albania and Bulgaria, Edi Rama and Dimitar Glavchev.

Senators Shaheen and Tillis hosted the officials of Albania, North Macedonia and Montenegro

Prime Ministers of Albania and North Macedonia, Edi Rama and Hristijan Mickoski, as well as Foreign Minister of Montenegro Filip Ivanović, were hosted by US Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Thom Tillis in the margins of the NATO summit. The central topics of these conversations were the EU integration of the WB countries, as well as the regional and global security.

After the meeting, Montenegrin Foreign Minister Filip Ivanović stated that Montenegro and the USA had excellent relations, characterised by the long-term friendship and partnership.

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