Stoltenberg: NATO will increase its support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova
NATO Secretary General Jens Stioltenberg said today in Bucharest that the ministers of foreign affairs of the alliance members agreed to increase their support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova.
Speaking at a press conference after the third and final meeting of the two-day North Atlantic Council (NAC) in Bucharest, Stoltenberg said the three countries were “important partners” of NATO “facing Russian pressure”.
The third NAC meeting, where ministers from NATO members Sweden and Finland were joined by the heads of diplomatic missions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova, discussed “common security concerns and ways to strengthen cooperation”, Stoltenberg said.
“The allies agreed to step up support to these countries, including security capacity building, reforms and training to improve security and defence institutions,” Stoltenberg said, Beta reported. He said the allies expressed solidarity with all three countries, adding that “a lesson has been learned” from Russia’s war against Ukraine that the three partners “must be supported without delay”.
Stoltenberg said that Bosnia and Herzegovina is important for the stability of the Balkans, where NATO has been present since the 1990s, helping to stop a “brutal ethnic war”.
“It is time to accept Sweden and Finland as full members”
NATO ministers were joined by Sweden and Finland in all discussions at the two-day meeting. Stoltenberg announced that the process of ratification of their membership of NATO is nearing completion.
“Their accession will make them safer and our alliance stronger. It is time to welcome them as full members of the Alliance”, he said.
Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Bilstrom said on Wednesday that Sweden and Finland were making good progress in reaching an agreement with Turkey on the Nordic countries’ accession to NATO.
“Yesterday (29 November) we had a very good bilateral cooperation between Sweden, Finland and Turkey and after this meeting I felt that there is progress. We are moving forward,” Bilstrom told reporters after arriving for the second day of the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Bucharest on 30 November.
Sweden and Finland abandoned their long-standing policy of military non-alignment and applied to join the military alliance after Russian forces launched an invasion of Ukraine in February, fearing that Russian President Vladimir Putin might attack them.
All 30 NATO member states must formally ratify the accession protocol of Finland and Sweden to join the alliance. Only the parliaments of Turkey and Hungary need to do so.
The meeting of NATO foreign ministers continued in Bucharest on Wednesday morning, 30 November, with a new meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC).
On Wednesday, NATO foreign ministers are expected to try to reassure countries in Russia’s neighbourhood not to fear that Russia could destabilise them as the conflict in Ukraine drags on, cutting energy supplies and driving up prices.
“The reason for this meeting is our signal of the importance of creating stability not only for NATO countries but also more broadly,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra upon his arrival in Bucharest for the second day of the talks.
On Tuesday, NATO allies pledged additional assistance to Ukraine to help repair energy infrastructure badly damaged by Russian bombing.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu told reporters that NATO wanted to ensure that after the war in Ukraine, Russia “will not be able to dictate the security options and the way of life of its neighbours”.
Moldova, which lies between Ukraine and Romania, warned its people last week to brace for a harsh winter as it faces an “acute” energy crisis that could spark popular discontent.
It has also been facing an unresolved separatist conflict for 30 years. A contingent of Russian peacekeepers is based in Transnistria.
The Russian-backed separatists control two breakaway regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
European leaders are worried that countries on the southern and eastern fringes of the continent will lose patience while waiting for membership of the European Union and NATO, leaving them open to Russian and Chinese efforts to gain influence.
NATO ministers will also discuss how to strengthen the resilience of societies, days after Stoltenberg warned Western countries that they must be careful not to create new dependence on China as they wean themselves off Russian energy supplies./RSE/