The Office of the President announced on Monday that the Croatian President will attend the NATO summit in Madrid from June 28th to 30th, where he is expected to hold bilateral meetings with the Finnish and Swedish leaders. The president has opposed their membership of the NATO alliance until the position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina is resolved.
Croatian President Zoran Milanović is expected to meet with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson in Madrid. For weeks now the president has been saying that he would block Finland and Sweden's entry into the NATO alliance until Bosnia and Herzegovina adopts election law reforms that will ensure Croats in that country equal voting rights.
During her official visit to Croatia last week, Milanović told Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin that he did not oppose Finland's accession to NATO in principle, but at the same time pointed out the difficult position of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the security problems facing Croatia due to the unstable situation in that country.
However, Milanović is not the only one setting conditions on Finland and Sweden's accession to the NATO alliance. Turkey is also blocking their membership until Sweden and Finland stop providing shelter to members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which Ankara considers a terrorists organization in Turkey. Turkey is also demanding that the two countries lift their ban on arms sales to Turkey, which they imposed due to the Turkish intervention in Syria.
The summit will also feature a meeting between the leaders of NATO member states with the heads of state and government of non-member states; Australia, Finland, Georgia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Sweden, as well as with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference in Brussels today, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said that at its upcoming summit in Madrid the alliance will increase the number of troops on high alert to over three hundred thousand. Currently, NATO has about forty thousand permanently deployed troops in eight combat groups in its eastern members. At the summit in Madrid, the leaders of the alliance will make a decision to increase some of these combat groups to the level of brigades. Stoltenberg announced that in the new Strategic Concept that the alliance will adopt in Madrid, Russia will be defined as the biggest and direct threat to security. This is a complete departure from NATO's last Strategic Concept adopted in 2010, when Russia was defined as a NATO's strategic partner. For the first time, the Strategic Concept will also mention China and the challenges that Beijing poses to NATO members.
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