The US Congress Armed Services Committee has approved increased “military-to-military cooperation and engagements” in the Western Balkans.
The National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2019 allows the Defense Secretary to increase engagement and military-to-military cooperation for the Western Balkans including Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia.
The Committee said it is concerned about long-term stability and security in the Western Balkans, adding that “ethnic tensions, economic challenges, and malignant external influences” contribute to the instability.
The Committee expressed concern over intensified Russian efforts to assert its influence in the Western Balkans.
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Partnerships between the US and the countries of the Western Balkans are “vital to increase security, stability and prosperity in the region,” the Committee said and called US European partners and allies to strengthen relations in the region.
The Committee said it supports ongoing efforts by regional countries to join NATO and the EU, and that the progress on that path “provides a stable framework from which to achieve greater stability and security throughout Central Europe.”
“The Committee is encouraged by the strong partnership that continues to develop between the countries of the Western Balkans and the US. These partnerships are vital for enhancing security, stability and prosperity in the region. The Committee also encourages European partners and allies to continue to strengthen their ties with the region and notes that the Defense Department should continue with enhanced military co-operation and engagement in the region”.
(Blic, N1, 23.05.2018)
Photo Credits:” Jan Willem van Hofwegen/shutterstock.com”
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