20. April 2017

NATO concerned - but region must sort out its own problems

A day after Edi Rama spoke about possible destabilization in the Western Balkans in the absence of EU perspective, NATO said it was "concerned." This is what Tanjug reported late on Wednesday, citing an unnamed official of the western military alliance. "We encourage leaders in the Western Balkans to adhere to their commitments and to continue on the path of dialogue and reconciliation. NATO and the rest of the international community have a role to help, but the ultimate solution to the problems of the region must be found in the region," said the official. According to the same source, "NATO sees the future of the Western Balkans in the framework of Euro-Atlantic cooperation," and "calls on leaders in the region to continue along the path of dialogue and reconciliation." Asked to to assess "the current situation in the region and the position of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama" - who is not ruling out the possibility of a "union" between Kosovo and Albania - the NATO headquarters source "underlined their concern about the recent worsening of the situation." They also said that that the Western Balkans is of "strategic interest" to both the EU and NATO. "Stability and security in this region contribute to stability and security of Europe. NATO will maintain its presence, attention and engagement in the Western Balkans, including the continuation of the KFOR mission, that will continue to play a role in supporting all citizens in Kosovo, in accordance with the UN mandate," Tanjug was told at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Responding the agency's questions, a senior official "emphasized that NATO supports Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the countries in the region" and "reiterates that democracy, the rule of law, internal reforms and good neighborly relations are essential for cooperation and stability in the region." "We see the future of the region in the framework of the Euro-Atlantic cooperation and integration for those countries that so wish. This will benefit citizens, these countries and the entire Euro-Atlantic family. We are determined to help countries in the region implement reforms in order to improve the lives of their citizens, regardless of whether they want to join NATO or not. We respect their choice, whatever it may be," said the official. @b92

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