The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, has said that the security situation in the Balkans remains fragile, while emphasizing that there is potential for tensions in Kosovo and Bosnia.
The NATO chief made these comments after meeting with Montenegrin Prime Minister Milojko Spajic on Friday in Brussels, from where he condemned the outbreak of violence in Kosovo last year, saying that NATO reacted quickly by sending 1,000 additional troops to help. KFOR to implement its mandate, reports The Geopost.
“The outbursts of violence last year in Kosovo were unacceptable. NATO responded quickly, sending 1,000 additional troops and armored vehicles. We are committed to making sure that KFOR continues to fulfill its mandate according to the UN,” said Stoltenberg.
Montenegrin Prime Minister Spajic, whose country joined NATO seven years ago, said Podgorica understands that NATO’s presence in the region brings security and stability.
“Montenegro understands that many global developments require constant vigilance that rightly attracts the attention of allies. But we must not forget the region. I emphasize once again the importance of continuing NATO’s presence in the region, because this is a strong guarantee of peace and stability. I expect this to be reconfirmed at the next NATO high-level meeting in Washington”, said Spajic.
Throughout 2023, there have been several outbreaks of violence in Kosovo. On September 24, Kosovo woke up to the news that a member of the police was killed by a terrorist attack that was organized and financed by Serbia, and at least two others were injured during clashes with the group led by Milan Radojicic, who was then vice president. of Lista Serbe, the main party of Serbs in Kosovo that is supported by the government of Aleksandar Vučić.
Several members of the group were also killed during the clashes that lasted almost the whole day, raising concerns about stability in the fragile region.
In May, at least 25 people were injured during clashes between Serbian protesters in Zveçan, in the northern part of Kosovo, and KFOR soldiers. The Italian foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, said that 11 Italian members of KFOR were injured, 3 of them were in serious condition.
The tense situation in Kosovo developed after the Albanian mayors took office in the municipalities of the northern part where most of the inhabitants are Serbs after the local elections that the Serbs boycotted.
After that, Vucic put the army on full combat alert and ordered military units to move closer to the border with Kosovo.
Analysts say that the war in Ukraine has increased Moscow’s activity to renew its influence in the Balkans, which it is trying to use to draw attention from its aggression in Ukraine.
The NATO chief also spoke about Sweden’s membership in NATO, a process that has been ongoing for a year and a half, saying it would strengthen the military alliance as Russian aggression in Ukraine continues.
He welcomed Turkey’s decision to approve Sweden’s request, while saying he expects Hungary to do so by the end of next month.
“I am absolutely sure and I have faith in Hungary that the approval of Sweden’s membership will be done as soon as the parliament convenes at the end of February,” NATO chief Stoltenberg said.
Sweden, along with Finland, abandoned their traditional positions of non-alignment to seek protection under the NATO umbrella following the Russian aggression in Ukraine in February 2022./The Geopost/