Home » Keeping the Balkans in focus. Italian MOD travels to Pristina, Skopje

Keeping the Balkans in focus. Italian MOD travels to Pristina, Skopje

The Italian Defence Minister travelled to the Balkanic countries to meet with counterparts and deepen security ties. He also visited the Italian soldiers stationed in Kosovo as Italy readies to take over the KFOR mission yet again

Guido Crosetto’s Balkanic Easter break. The Italian Defence Minister recently made his way to Kosovo and North Macedonia for a series of high-level talks and meetings. Aside from the diplomatic legwork, he spent Good Friday with the Italian personnel stationed near Pristina, signalling the government’s constant attention to the area and willingness to contribute to its stability.

  • Rome has been working to ensure the Western Balkans’ gradual integration into the European Union, including on foreign policy issues.
  • The dossier has grown in urgency ever since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the intensification of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to divide the EU.
  • Prime Minister Giorgia MeloniForeign Minister Antonio Tajani and Minister Crosetto himself have all been reaching out to partners in those countries and personally working on integration over the past months.

The Kosovar leg… Defence Minister Crosetto began his tour by visiting his counterpart in Pristina, Ejup Maqedonci. He stressed Rome’s 20-plus-year engagement through NATO’s KFOR stability-fostering mission, which “confirms the strong bond of friendship between Italy and Kosovo” and is “decisive in mitigating tensions and averting escalation between the parties,” noting that talks are ongoing to make the cooperation increasingly effective.

  • He later met with KFOR’s commander, Turkey’s Major General Özkan Ulutaş, at NATO Headquarters, noting that Italy “is ready to take command of the mission once again” and describing it as “a fundamental commitment for the stability of the region and the whole of Europe.”
  • There are about 800 Italian military personnel currently stationed in Kosovo. Rome also oversees the EU’s EULEX mission, a civilian effort to monitor the progress of the country’s political institutions.

… and the North Macedonian visit. The Italian Defence Minister then travelled to Skopje to meet with his homologue, Slavjanka Petrovska, and sign a technical agreement to include Italy’s Air Force in the NATO air patrol mission. He later commented that Rome and Athens are “taking responsibility for protecting the skies over North Macedonia” during a joint press meeting at the Pilot Training Centre at Petrovec Barracks.

  • “This proves more than any other word how important it is to be an ally in NATO because being an ally means putting your own forces at the disposal of other countries to defend them when needed. Italy is honoured to do this and is honoured that North Macedonia has given us this trust,” he noted.

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