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MLO Belgrade  /  Newsroom  /  News Archive  /  2022  /  Interview of NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General Javier Colomina for Kurir

Nov 9 2022

INterview of nato deputy assistant secretary general for political affairs and security policy javier colomina for Kurir Daily

Belgrade - On November 9, the written interview of Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy and NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, Javier Colomina, was published in Serbian daily outlet Kurir. 

Kurir: What has Russian aggression against Ukraine demonstrated? Has this war demystified the supposed power of the Russian military?

Colomina: Russia’s war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and has brought a tectonic change to the European security landscape. It is causing death, massive destruction, and suffering for the Ukrainian people. It also affects hundreds of millions of people around the world through the food and energy crises, which are the direct result of Russia’s illegal aggression.

President Putin has made a big strategic mistake. He underestimated the immense courage and determination of the Ukrainian people and armed forces and of their leadership. He has also underestimated the strong unity of NATO Allies in supporting Ukraine as it upholds its right to self-defense, enshrined in the UN Charter. And he underestimated NATO’s firm commitment to protect and defend all Allies.

Kurir: How seriously should we consider the threats made by Russian President Vladimir Putin concerning the use of nuclear weaponry? Can you assess how far Putin is prepared to go?

Colomina: President Putin’s nuclear rhetoric is dangerous and irresponsible. Russia knows that any use of nuclear weapons would have severe consequences. We have made clear to Russia that a nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought. We have not seen any change in Russia’s nuclear posture, but NATO remains extremely vigilant.
NATO respects military neutrality of Serbia. We believe that our partnership is beneficial for Serbia, NATO, and the entire region.

Kurir: Is this going to be a long war? 

Colomina: Wars are by their nature unpredictable. But one thing is clear. President Putin started this illegal war and President Putin can end it right now, by withdrawing its forces from Ukraine. As NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg has already made clear: “If President Putin and Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. If President Zelenskyy and Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine will cease to exist as an independent nation. We don't want that to happen. That's exactly why we provide support to Ukraine.”

Kurir: In recent weeks there has been a resurgence of tensions in Kosovo – this time due to Pristina’s insistence on the replacement of license plates. Can KFOR guarantee the security of Serbs in Kosovo at all times?

Colomina: NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg spoke on Monday with President Vucic and Albin Kurti regarding the tense situation in northern Kosovo. He urged both to refrain from any unilateral action that can trigger escalation. He underscored that dialogue is the only way forward and encouraged both parties to engage constructively in the EU-facilitated Dialogue. Mr, Stoltenberg stressed that our KFOR mission remains vigilant. KFOR is capable to address any security developments – in accordance with its UN mandate – as we have seen in the past. It remains ready to intervene, should stability be jeopardized.  

KFOR’s mission is to support a safe and secure environment and guarantee freedom of movement for all communities living in Kosovo, in full compliance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 1999. Its presence is thus fundamental to ensure security across Kosovo and safeguard stability across the Western Balkans region. The Commander of KFOR, Major General Ristuccia remains in close touch with all of his counterparts, including the Serbian Chief of Defence, General Mojsilovic. NATO and KFOR also work in close cooperation with the European Union, and other international organizations on the ground.

Kurir: Where do you see room for additional improvement of cooperation between NATO and Serbia, which is militarily neutral?

Colomina: NATO and Serbia have been building their partnership for the past 16 years. Over this period, we have achieved significant results in a number of areas. For example, NATO has supported the reforms of the Serbian Armed Forces; we currently have more than 20 ongoing projects with the Serbian scientific community, including with young scientists; we worked together to be better prepared for civil emergencies such as floods and forest fires, and NATO Allies and partners helped Serbia destroy hundreds of tons of surplus ammunition. All this is done in line with Serbia’s needs and based on Serbia’s request and in full respect of Serbia’s policy of military neutrality. A new partnership framework, which NATO and Serbia are currently developing, offers the opportunity to advance our cooperation. NATO is certainly open to it. The stability of the Western Balkans is of strategic importance for the Alliance – as stressed by NATO leaders at the Madrid Summit this past June and reflected in NATO’s New Strategic Concept. 

Story by NATO MLO Belgrade

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