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NATO Foreign Ministers: Western Balkans of strategic importance for the Alliance

NATO Foreign Ministers: Western Balkans of strategic importance for the Alliance

The Western Balkans and the Black Sea region remain of strategic importance to NATO, as described in the joint statement of NATO foreign ministers following their meeting in Bucharest on 29 and 30 November.

The main topic discussed at the meeting was the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing implications it has on global and European security, reports EWB . Since the start of the war in Ukraine, NATO has increased its support to partners from the Western Balkans and the Black Sea region, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova and Georgia.

All three were invited to attend the Bucharest meeting, where the foreign ministers of these countries joined the final ministerial session.

In the statement, NATO foreign ministers confirmed their support for these countries in light of the security crisis facing the continent, "as NATO strengthens its support tailored to building their integrity and resilience, developing skills and maintaining their political independence".

The alliance reaffirmed its commitment to the open door policy further in the statement, including the decisions from the 2008 Bucharest Summit and "all subsequent decisions regarding Georgia and Ukraine".

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova and Georgia were facing pressure from Russia and that NATO "will take further steps to help them defend their independence and strengthen their ability to protect themselves".

"Today these partners are affected by Russian pressure and NATO allies are committed to increasing their support to them. This meeting is an opportunity to discuss some of our common security concerns, especially in the strategically important region of the Black Sea and the Western Balkans ," Stoltenberg said.

Bisera Turkovic, Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who also attended the Bucharest meeting, expressed concerns about Russian influence in the country and emphasized the importance of NATO's presence as a "security guarantee".

"We have Russian representatives in our government and the division in our country is deep," said Turkovic.

The Foreign Ministers used this opportunity to discuss NATO's attitude towards China. Stoltenberg warned that the war in Russia demonstrated the dangers of dependence on authoritarian regimes.

"We will continue, of course, to trade and engage economically with China, but we must be aware of our dependencies, reduce our weaknesses and manage risks" , as the Secretary General of NATO emphasized.

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