Western Balkans: NATO ready to face threats to the region

A confidential NATO document on security in the Balkans has been adopted at a meeting of the alliance’s foreign ministers this month.

Russia’s Sputnik agency is reporting this on Tuesday, quoting Croatian daily Vecernji List, which said it was able to “exclusively” see this document.

“NATO is ready to intervene in the Balkans operatively when necessary to prevent inter-ethnic conflict and promote security and stability,” said the “secret NATO document on the situation in the Western Balkans,” according to the paper. 

According to the same source, the document was “discussed and adopted at a meeting of foreign ministers this month, and it describes in detail the two types of threats faced by the countries in Croatia’s southeastern neighborhood: Russia’s destabilizing behavior and the growing extremism and radicalization as a result of the return of foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq.” 

“It does not reveal in detail what the alliance ‘being ready to intervene operatively’ means, but sources said unofficially the emphasis is on promoting security and stability, and that it should not be read as a threat, but a message of deterrence to potential threats, which NATO, it is obvious from this wording, will closely monitor in the western Balkans,” the article continued. 

The document also “states that approximately 260 ‘foreign fighters’ left Bosnia-Herzegovina to fight on the side of terrorist organizations Al-Qaeda and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria – this data is from late 2015.” 

As for the second reason for concern among NATO member- states and the situation in the Western Balkans – “the confidential document states that Russia’s approach is mostly directed toward the Serb population in the region.” 

“Among the Serbs Russia’s messages resonates the most,” the document stated, according to the daily. 

NATO also “sees an increase in Russian activity in the Western Balkans, including destabilizing behavior.” 

The article goes on to say that the part of the document that speaks about Serbia stated that “the support for the military alliance among the Serbs is very low – which is, of course, the result of the NATO bombing of Serbia toward the end of the rule of Slobodan Milosevic.” However, NATO “recognizes the need to encourage additional, more powerful than ever before, political cooperation with Serbia.”

(B92, 13.12.2016)


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