“I depend on all sides to scale back tensions and to chorus from escalatory actions,” he mentioned throughout a go to to Serbia’s capital Belgrade, after his stops in Bosnia and Kosovo, on the second day of his journey in Western Balkans,
Stoltenberg’s journey displays Western considerations over the soundness of the unstable Balkan area that went by means of a sequence of wars within the Nineties.
Serbia and Kosovo witnessed a spike in stress following two violent incidents in Could and September because the struggle raged in Ukraine. Western allies worry Russia might attempt to spur Balkan hassle to avert consideration from its aggression on Ukraine.
In Could, Serb demonstrators in northern Kosovo clashed with Nato peacekeeping troops. In September, a Kosovo policeman and three Serb gunmen have been killed in a shootout after about 30 masked males opened hearth on a police patrol close to the Kosovo village of Banjska.
The 2 incidents have prompted Nato to beef up its peacekeeping presence in Kosovo. Stoltenberg mentioned on Monday that Nato was contemplating deploying further peacekeeping troops.
The Nato head mentioned in Belgrade that a number of the 93 troops wounded in clashes with Serb demonstrators had “life-changing accidents.”
“That is unacceptable, the information should be established. The perpetrators should face justice,” mentioned Stoltenberg. “I welcome that Serbia is ready to cooperate in these efforts.”
Stoltenberg additionally urged Serbia and Kosovo to have interaction “constructively” in a European Union-mediated dialogue that’s geared toward normalizing relations between the previous foes. Serbia doesn’t acknowledge Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence.
Each Serbia and Kosovo have been beforehand warned by EU diplomats that refusal to compromise jeopardized their possibilities of becoming a member of the EU.
Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic mentioned at a joint press convention with Stoltenberg that tensions in Kosovo have been the results of elevated strain by the federal government there on the ethnic Serb minority.
Solely Serbs “are underneath risk in Kosovo,” Vucic insisted.
Serbia has pledged to prosecute the alleged ringleader of the armed group behind the September shootout in Kosovo. Belgrade has denied allegations it orchestrated the incident.
Stoltenberg additionally referred to as for elevated cooperation with Serbia and the resumption of joint navy coaching workouts, saying that Nato revered Serbia’s choice to stay militarily impartial.
Belgrade has maintained pleasant relations with Russia and refused to hitch Western sanctions towards Moscow, which has backed its bid to retain declare on Kosovo.