Commander of JFC Naples, U.S. Navy Admiral James Foggo, visited Belgrade. The Admiral met with Serbian Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin and Chief of General Staff General Ljubisa Dikovic. Apart from that, he will visit troops and key sites that are part of the Kosovo Force, the NATO-led peace support operation commonly referred to as KFOR.
The commander of JFC Naples, while speaking to Serbian representatives said that he sees good connectivity and collaboration between NATO, the state of Serbia and the Serbian Armed Forces. In reference to that, he addressed a recent airborne exercise, dubbed Double Eagle, with U.S. and Serbian Armed Forces last year, and he looked ahead to a regional exercise Belgrade will host this year. The exercise is designed to familiarize troops with NATO standard operating procedures during simulations of real-life scenarios such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
The current trip is Foggo’s fourth to Serbia, although the first as the commander of JFC Naples. He doesn’t hesitate to say that he predicts a bright future for the country.
"I think that the Serbian public, given the opportunity to learn more about NATO, will find that NATO is a defensive alliance, it’s not an Alliance that’s looking for a fight,” said Foggo. "We’re about deterrence, and I think that’s a very positive message that NATO is about security and stability in the European theater.”
He says that “NATO respects Serbia’s neutrality and its political and military connections with Russia.”
“We are in Partnership for Peace, and this is excellent. The statute of the Alliance stresses that an attack to one of the members is attacked on all. However, NATO’s mission is first of all defense and prevention of conflicts. Acceptance of Montenegro has helped the security of the borders in the region,” Foggo said.
Asked about the security situation in Kosovo, Foggo said that the first Kosovo Police is competent for security, then EULEX and after them KFOR.
“Their duty is to prevent destabilization and violence,” Admiral Foggo said. “Oliver Ivanovic’s murder is a crime, and perpetrators should be tried.
Foggo said he’s concerned about Russia’s influence in the Western Balkans and false information coming out of some Russian media outlets.
"I think that the role that NATO is portrayed as playing is unfair,” said Foggo about the false Russian narrative. "NATO is not an aggressor. NATO is not trying to encircle Russia or her friends and allies. NATO is merely a defensive Alliance.”
Foggo noted that he’s in favor of NATO enlargement, but he said Serbian leaders are pleased with the current situation.
"Serbia has made it quite clear that they’re happy with the relationship with NATO right now, and that is collaborate, coordinate, conduct exercises together in a very peaceful and productive way,” said Foggo.