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Written by Elmas Bogdani 30 Nëntor 2023
Never before have NATO foreign ministers met without fighting two wars on the alliance's borders. Fortunately, the ceasefire in the Middle East has been extended, so there is room for limited optimism. Nothing new in Eastern Europe, a positional war that is tiring Ukraine. In Brussels, Antony Blinken began a tour that takes him to North Macedonia, to the summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), where Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will also come. After that, he will go back to the Middle East. His office announced that the three main topics of the NATO meeting are the confirmation of support for Ukraine, the stability of the Western Balkans and the preparation of the summit to be held in Washington next June. Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of our Alliance, confirmed that the Middle East will also be a topic of discussion because NATO has a mission in Iraq that helps fight the Islamic State terrorist group "in close cooperation with Jordan."
The Balkans and the Middle East
The Hashemite Kingdom is under great pressure due to the large number of Palestinian refugees and the border with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Anyone who wants to fan the flames of war spreading from the Gaza Strip to the region would do so in Jordan, which is why King Abdullah II visited NATO headquarters a few weeks ago. That is why Stoltenberg emphasizes Jordan. Ukraine remains a primary interest, with our defense alliance having a clearly defined strategy against this Russian aggression: support Kiev to defend itself, but this is done by member states, not NATO; avoid a conflict between Russia and NATO. Stoltenberg reiterates that the Alliance is preventing escalation, clearly telling Moscow that we are ready to defend every inch of NATO territory. Hungary and Slovakia, in line with their own policies, are unlikely to oppose the Alliance's joint decisions, as they leave their support for Moscow to EU-level discussions. The Secretary General of the Alliance visited non-members in the Western Balkans in mid-November and warned of "malign influences from the Russian side as well." Rhetoric in BiH has flared again, and the trial of Milorad Dodik, the president of BiH's unit Republika Srpska, deepens frictions in relations between the constituent nations and entities. The situation is not better even in the relations between Serbia and Kosovo, but Stoltenberg managed to get a statement from the Serbian president Aleksandër Vu?i? that he will return to the exercises with NATO. He told Kosovo's leadership not to send police or security forces to the north, where most Serbs live, without consulting NATO's KFOR mission.
The Alliance can be expected to approve an increase in the number of KFOR troops, which should ensure that any destructive ideas to ignite the conflict, such as the recent attempted rebellion of the Kosovo Serbs, fail as ideas. The message will be clear, do everything to prevent the outbreak of a crisis in the Western Balkans, which would represent the third security threat to Europe. It is not excluded that Turkey and Hungary are under pressure to ratify Sweden's membership in the Alliance as soon as possible. Ankara is in a better position because it has started the process and Budapest is waiting.
Blinken remained silent and Stoltenberg emphasized that the ministers would also discuss the People's Republic of China. He emphasized that the People's Republic of China is not a rival, but the challenges it presents to the security of the Alliance must be taken into account. NATO's strategic concept, adopted at the Madrid summit in 2022, states that "the expressed ambitions and policy of coercion of the People's Republic of China pose a challenge to our interests, security and values". The Alliance's approach to this issue is similar to the EU's strategy - we must work together to tackle common threats, especially climate change and arms control (for example, the Islamic Republic of Iran and its nuclear programme) , actively opposing Chinese policies that directly attack our values ??and security. The party will not be happy with that announcement at all.