Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Minister of Defense Zukan Helez met on November 20, 2023 with the Secretary General of the NATO Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg.
In addition to Minister Helez, the chairman of the BiH Council of Ministers Borjana Krišto and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina Elmedin Konaković and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Josip Brkić, who is also the chairman of the Commission for Cooperation with NATO, attended the meeting.
At the joint meeting of the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Secretary General of NATO, they discussed the progress of our country on the Euro-Atlantic path, as well as the reforms that have been implemented and that need to be continued within the “BiH Reform Program”.
The interlocutors exchanged opinions on the current political and security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and stated that in a time of increased security challenges, especially after the aggression of the Russian Federation on Ukraine and the latest events in the Middle East, it is necessary to pay attention to peace and security in our country and to strengthen defense and security capacities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The conversation emphasized the fact that NATO allies are strongly committed to supporting our country’s efforts to implement the necessary reforms, to strengthen state institutions and to continue to be a reliable partner of the alliance when it comes to contributing to the preservation of peace and security in the region and in the world.
That is why the NATO “Support Package for Strengthening the Defense and Security Capacities of Bosnia and Herzegovina” (DCB), which was approved at the NATO Summit in Madrid last year, is of crucial importance, the implementation of which has begun and the results of which are already visible and useful in multiple ways for the Armed Forces BiH.
Minister of Defense Zukan Helez stated after the meeting that the visit of the Secretary General of NATO to our country is extremely important, and that the delegation of the BiH Council of Ministers met Mr. Stolteberg about the realized activities regarding the “BiH Reform Program”, as well as about other important issues for the security, stability and economic prosperity of our country.
On this occasion, the minister particularly emphasized the importance of our country’s full membership in NATO, which would lead to stronger economic development of the state of BiH as a whole, stop the departure of young people from this area and strengthen peace and stability in this part of Europe.
“The Secretary General of NATO especially praised our success in training our battalion combat group, which successfully completed the training and assessment process according to NATO standards (NEL 2) and thus became a competitor for the NATO pool of forces, for NATO-led peace support operations , which is a great success of our Armed Forces”, said Minister Helez.
On this occasion, the Secretary General of NATO emphasized “that NATO allies strongly support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country, but are concerned about secessionist statements and rhetoric of division.”
There was talk of malignant external influence, especially that from Russia, which threatens to undermine stability and weaken reforms, “but all leaders must work for unity and progress”, Stoltenberg emphasized on this occasion.
He also said that the NATO Headquarters Sarajevo supports the European Union mission Althea EUFOR, and that NATO and its allies remain fully committed to the success of that mission, as well as that NATO supports our reform efforts, including the package for building defense capabilities.
The Secretary General of NATO continues his activities with numerous working meetings at the headquarters of the NATO headquarters in Sarajevo, where he will meet with the military commanders of the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the NATO headquarters and EUFOR.