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KFOR  /  Media Center  /  Archive  /  News  /  2017  /   Interview with Mr John Manza, the NATO Deputy Assistant SG for operation, yesterday in Pristina for an official visit.

Interview with Mr John Manza, the NATO Deputy Assistant SG for operation, yesterday in Pristina for an official visit.

1. How do you see the future interaction between NATO and Kosovo?
In December 2016, the North Atlantic Council approved an enhanced interaction with Kosovo that goes beyond NATO’s current operational engagement. This interaction will mostly be carried out by the NATO Advisory and Liaison Team, a team established in Pristina in 2016 to build the capacity of security institutions in Kosovo. Activities under this enhanced interaction will include possible practical exercises with the participation of the Kosovo Security Force, but also exchanges on good governance, cyber defence, and public diplomacy.
2. What is the importance of KFOR's presence in Kosovo - for Kosovo and the wider Western Balkans region?
Over the past years, KFOR has guaranteed a safe and secure environment, as well as freedom of movement in Kosovo, in full compliance with our UN mandate. During the last force generation conference, Allies and partners reiterated their commitment to remain in Kosovo for as long as necessary and have again staffed KFOR in order to be a robust and credible force capable of carrying out its mission. Today, KFOR with its current footprint of 4,200 troops, is considered by Allies and partners as an essential guarantor of stability not only for Kosovo but for the entire Western Balkans region.
3. From NATO HQ perspective, how do you assess the effects (security-wise and political) of Montenegro’s accession to NATO for the region?
Montenegro’s accession will help consolidate stability and security in the Balkans, as countries in the region which have joined the Alliance have become exporters of stability to the region and beyond. A stable Balkans is in all of our interests. NATO’s door remains open to European nations able to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership, and contribute to security in the Euro-Atlantic area.
4. Why the Balkans region is so important as part of European and international security scenario?
The Western Balkans is a region of strategic importance for NATO. Stability and security in this region benefits stability and security more broadly in Europe. NATO will maintain its presence, its focus and its engagement in the Western Balkans, and will support the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of countries in the region. Democratic values, rule of law, domestic reforms, and good neighbourly relations are vital for regional cooperation and stability; and if our neighbours are stable, we are more secure.
5. NATO's presence in Kosovo dates from 1999. The situation in the Balkans has changed since then. Now the region could potentially face new problems, such as terrorism, what does KFOR do in this regard?
KFOR is a success story for the Alliance and our partners. For the past eighteen years, KFOR has been helping transform Kosovo into a safer place. With respect to terrorism, a stable Balkans is also important to address the threat of foreign fighters. At the same time, the normalisation process between Pristina and Belgrade is continuing and NATO fully supports the EU-sponsored dialogue. KFOR will continue its mission to preserve a safe environment and guarantee freedom of movement, for as long as necessary.

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