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NATO Secretary General in Skopje: the Western Balkans is Essential to the Security of Europe



Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressed the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia in Skopje on Tuesday (21 November 2023), marking the first such address since the country joined NATO.

In his address, Mr Stoltenberg said the Western Balkans is essential to the security of Europe.  He thanked North Macedonia for its commitment to the security of the Alliance, including valuable support to NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. The Secretary General welcomed North Macedonia’s help for Ukraine: “Here, in this Assembly, you are united in denouncing Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”

North Macedonia became a member of NATO in March 2020, following the Prespa agreement, which Mr Stoltenberg said “contributed to good neighbourly relations, and a brighter future for the people of North Macedonia.” The Secretary General added that North Macedonia is an example of a successful multi-ethnic society: “You demonstrate to the region and to the whole world that it is possible for different ethnic and religious groups to live together in peace,” he said. 

Speaking earlier following a meeting with Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski, the Secretary General said: “NATO can rely on North Macedonia and North Macedonia can rely on NATO. The Alliance guarantees your security. You are covered by NATO’s air policing. Fighter jets from Greece and Italy patrol your skies to keep you safe. This is NATO solidarity in action.”

Mr Stoltenberg also warned that authoritarian states are seeking to undermine our freedom and way of life, including in the Western Balkans. He said: “Our response must be to work even more closely together in NATO. Through our military presence and our cooperation with Allies and partners, we are a strong force for stability in the region.”

While in Skopje, Mr Stoltenberg is also meeting with President Stevo Pendarovski, and the President of the Assembly, Talat Xhaferi.

Source : nato.int

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