Western Balkans face ‘no imminent threat’

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — A senior NATO official said Thursday that Western Balkan countries do not face an “imminent threat” from war in Ukraine and are of strategic interest to the Western alliance.

NATO Assistant Secretary General Mircea Geoana traveled to Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, to meet local officials and visit the NATO-led KFOR mission.

Geoana denounced Russia’s “illogical and brutal war” in Ukraine and its “aggressive and malevolent influence on the Western Balkans”.

“We have a strategic interest… in the Western Balkans. I want to send a message of hope to all the peoples of the Western Balkans that in the end we will all find ourselves in the European and Euro-Atlantic family,” he told The Associated Press.

Some Western Balkan countries are NATO members – Albania, Croatia, Montenegro and North Macedonia – while Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are partners.


Kosovo said it would apply for Partnership for Peace membership, seen as a first step in the process of joining NATO.

NATO troops have been present in Kosovo since 1999 after a war between Serbia and its former province ended in a 78-day NATO air campaign.

Geoana hailed NATO members in the region who have increased their defense spending as “a natural reaction when you see an aggressive Russia”, adding that NATO would “defend all allies and every square inch of territory”.

Geoana reconfirmed the alliance’s commitment to “stand with Ukraine for the long term”.

“They deserve our help. And this great nation deserves to be a free, independent and sovereign nation in Europe,” he said.

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Semini brought from Tirana, Albania

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