NATO’s Stoltenberg says concerned with secessionist rhetoric in Bosnia

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SARAJEVO, Nov 20 (Reuters) – NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday the alliance was concerned by “secessionist rhetoric” in Bosnia as well as by foreign interference including Russia.

“We are concerned by secessionist and divisive rhetoric as well as .. foreign interference including Russia,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Sarajevo, his first stop during the Western Balkans tour.

He was referring to repeated announcements by Bosnian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik that the country’s autonomous Serb Republic will work to secede and join neighbouring ally Serbia.

“This undermines the stability and hampers reform,” Stoltenberg said, adding that all political leaders must work to preserve unity, build national institutions and achieve reconciliation.

Nearly three decades after its devastating 1992-1995 war which claimed 100,000 lives, Bosnia and Herzegovina remains divided, its economy stagnating and people leaving en masse.

NATO has warned about risks for Bosnia from foreign interference, particularly from Russia.

“NATO remains committed to support Bosnia’s Euro-Atlantic path, every country has the right to choose its security arrangements without foreign interference,” Stoltenberg said after meeting the chairwoman of Bosnia’s Council of Ministers Borjana Kristo.

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