NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg arrived in Sarajevo on Sunday, beginning a mini-tour of four Western Balkan countries, three of which are not members of the military alliance and are considered to pose potential risks to security.
Bosnia and Herzegovina has been part of the NATO Membership Action Plan since 2010. However, it has not taken concrete steps towards membership due to slow reforms and political blockages in from Bosnian Serb leaders, who oppose NATO membership and have also blocked attempts to join internationally. sanctions against Moscow.
In light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and the changing security environment in Europe, NATO has increased its support for Bosnia and approved a new reinforcement program in 2023 of the country’s defense capabilities.
After meeting with Bosnian, Croat and Serb members of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s collective presidency on Sunday, Stoltenberg will travel on Monday to Kosovo, a former province of Serbia that declared independence in 2008 and is still patrolled by holding troops. peacekeeping forces led by NATO, KFOR.
The visit comes after a breakdown in political talks and increased tensions between Serbia and Kosovo in recent months, culminating in an attack by gunmen on a Kosovo police patrol in September, which the EU called ‘” terrorist attack “.
On Tuesday, Stoltenberg will travel to Serbia – a country bombed by NATO in 1999 to end the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Albanians. While Belgrade has since set its sights on EU membership, it has said joining the military alliance is not its strategic objective. He has also so far refused to endorse sanctions against Moscow.
Last on the list is North Macedonia, which joined NATO in 2022.
According to N1Stoltenberg will hold a meeting on Wednesday with regional leaders, including those from NATO members Albania and Montenegro, as well as NATO and EU members Croatia and Slovenia.
(Zoran Radosavljevic | Euractiv.com)