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Shaheen, Tillis Host Meeting with Western Balkan NATO Allies During NATO Summit in Washington

**Co-Chairs of U.S. Senate NATO Observer Group host bipartisan group of Senators and Western Balkan NATO Allies in demonstration of unity during Summit**

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), co-chairs of the U.S. Senate NATO Observer Group, hosted a bipartisan meeting with Albania Prime Minister Edi Rama, North Macedonia Prime Minister Hristijan Mickoski and Montenegro Foreign Minister Filip Ivanovic to discuss each country’s important contributions to the NATO Alliance, continued support for Ukraine and the Balkan countries’ respective roles in advancing regional stability. The discussion also explored how the United States can continue to support the countries’ respective campaigns for EU membership. Joining Shaheen and Tillis were U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Pete Ricketts (R-NE). Photos from the event can be found here

“We have an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the Western Balkans by supporting each countries’ advancement towards EU membership – helping ensure our transatlantic alliance achieves regional and global stability,” said Shaheen. “It was great to meet with leaders from these important countries. Our unwavering unity makes clear that the United States will stand resolute in denying efforts to undermine peace and stability in the region.” 

“Today’s meeting with the leaders of Albania, North Macedonia, and Montenegro was a productive conversation about their respective advancement towards EU membership,” said Tillis. “The Western Balkans region is critical to Europe’s security, and as co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, we made it clear the United States is committed to standing up to totalitarian regimes, especially as Russia continues its illegal war against Ukraine and threatens our NATO allies. I appreciate the opportunity to hear from leaders of these countries and have the opportunity to deepen existing cooperation with our partners.” 

As co-chairs of the U.S. Senate NATO Observer Group, which they re-started together in 2018, Shaheen and Tillis led bipartisan efforts in the Senate in support of the transatlantic Alliance. Last month, the Senators penned an op-ed calling for a recommitment to strengthening NATO on the 80th Anniversary of D-day. In April, the Senators sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden outlining key objectives and priorities for the NATO Summit, which is taking place in Washington, DC this week. The Senators have pushed Allies to reach the two percent defense spending target that was agreed to by NATO and have been outspoken in their support to grow the Alliance, recently applauding ratification by Türkiye’s Parliament of Sweden’s NATO accession protocols and leading a resolution criticizing Hungary’s previous delay in ratifying Sweden’s accession. 

A senior member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Shaheen is a leader in the Senate on U.S. policy toward the Balkans. In April, Senator Shaheen applauded committee passage of her bipartisan Western Balkans Democracy and Prosperity Act. She has led three congressional delegations to the region in the past two years, most recently leading a delegation with U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) to North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where she delivered a keynote address at the inaugural Sarajevo Security Conference. In October 2022, Senator Shaheen served as an election observer for the national elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Senator Shaheen is also the lead on bipartisan legislation, the Srebrenica Remembrance Act, which was introduced in October 2023.