German defense minister: Western Balkans should be closer to EU and Nato

NEWS 05.05.2022 13:26
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Source: Bernd von Jutrczenka/Pool via REUTERS

German Minister, Christine Lambrecht, said in Sarajevo on Wednesday that Germany supports Bosnia and Herzegovina's bid to join NATO, adding that it was important for Berlin to see such a prospect for the whole of Western Balkans, Croatian state agency Hina reported.

“We want to see Western Balkans draw closer to the EU and NATO,” Lambrecht said after talks with Bosnia’s Defence Minister Sifet Podzic, and his deputies.

“Lambrecht visited Sarajevo as part of a regional tour taking place at a time when Bosnia, due to its aspirations to join NATO, is faced with Russian threats against its security,” Hina explained.

Russian Ambassador to Bosnia, Igor Kalabukhov, said recently that Moscow “reserves the right to respond” in case Bosnia joins NATO “one day.”

“Germany’s focus is on developments caused by the Russian aggression on Ukraine but it is aware of the security risks in other parts of Europe, including Western Balkans,” Lambrecht said on Wednesday. “Berlin will not neglect this region because European values are defended there as well,” she added.

Bosnia’s Defence Minister, Sifet Podzic, confirmed he talked to Lambrecht about the future of the EU military mission, EUFOR, in Bosnia. There are indications that Russia could veto the extension of EUFOR’s current term at the UN Security Council in November, but Podzic said that “solutions are now being sought” to maintain security in Bosnia.

Around 1,000 troops are currently stationed in Bosnia as part of the EU’s military mission there, currently under the command of Austrian general, Anton Wessely. EUFOR is tasked with providing response in case of any security threats.

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