He made this statement after a meeting in Brussels with the President of Albania, Bajram Begaj, who also expressed his support for the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia for the normalization of relations.
“We cooperate with the EU and welcome the meetings in Brussels as part of the dialogue. NATO will continue to strongly support this dialogue because we see it as the only true path for peace and stability in Kosovo,” said the head of NATO.
“We have a historical argument for lasting peace and I welcome a constructive approach. It is important that both sides show flexibility and willingness to compromise. Any solution must take into account human rights, good neighborliness and the rule of law,” he added.
Stoltenberg’s statements come after Kosovo and Serbia accepted the European proposal for the normalization of relations on February 27.
The EU announced that at a meeting in Brussels, Kosovo Prime Minister Aljbin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić agreed that there is no need for further discussions on this proposal, which was submitted to the parties last year.
The European bloc then announced that the parties expressed their willingness to work on a plan for the implementation of the European proposal, which aims to bring the parties to a comprehensive final agreement for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Stoltenberg also reiterated the readiness of the Western military alliance to ensure peace and stability in Kosovo and the wider region.
“NATO has been present in Kosovo for many years. The presence of KFOR (NATO mission in Kosovo) has played and continues to play an important role in promoting peace and security of movement for everyone in Kosovo. Allies are willing to continue this. Significant NATO presence proved adequate for security,” said the head of the Western military alliance.
Meanwhile, Albanian President Bajram Begaj spoke about the security risks facing the Western Balkans region, drawing attention to the danger that comes from Russia’s influence.
“The Balkan region is still threatened by Russian intervention efforts. Russia threatens the region and the interests of NATO. Russia’s goal is to block democratic processes in the region. We have been following the events in the north of Kosovo with concern. We greatly appreciate NATO’s engagement in the region. KFOR is the guarantor peace in Kosovo and the region. We live in a time when bold decisions are needed. And it is time to reconsider Kosovo’s membership in the Euro-Atlantic structures,” said Begaj.
Begaj said that the eventual membership of Kosovo in NATO would represent “added value for the alliance”.
About 50,000 forces of the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, KFOR, were deployed in Kosovo after the end of the war in 1999 with the aim of guaranteeing security. There are currently close to 4,000 of them in the country, a significant number of which come from non-NATO countries.
At the end of last year, Kosovo submitted an application for EU membership, as the country also aspires to initially become part of the Partnership for Peace Alliance, and eventually become a member of NATO.