The message of the senior NATO official for Kosovo and other countries of the Western Balkans
Deputy Secretary of NATO, General Mircea Geoana visited Pristina on Thursday where he met with the President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani and visited the KFOR peacekeeping mission.
Geoana denounced Russia’s “illogical and brutal war” in Ukraine and its “aggressive and malicious influence on the Western Balkans”.
“We have a strategic interest… in the Western Balkans. I want to send a message of hope to all the people in the Western Balkans that in the end we will all find ourselves in the European and Euro-Atlantic family,” he told the Associated Press.
Several Western Balkan countries are NATO members – Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia – while Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina are partners.
Kosovo has confirmed that it will apply for membership in the Partnership for Peace, which is considered the first step in the NATO membership process.
NATO troops have been present in Kosovo since 1999 after the war against Serbia, which ended with a 78-day NATO bombing campaign.
Geoana hailed NATO members in the region, who have increased defense spending as “a natural reaction to Russian aggressiveness,” adding that NATO “would defend all allies and every square centimeter of territory.”
Geoana reaffirmed the commitment of the alliance to “stay by Ukraine for as long as it will be needed”.
“They deserve our help. And that great nation deserves to be a free, independent, sovereign nation in Europe,” he said.