“I count on all sides to reduce tensions and to refrain from escalatory actions,” he said during a visit to Serbia's capital Belgrade, after his stops in Bosnia and Kosovo, on the second day of his trip in Western Balkans,
Stoltenberg's trip reflects Western concerns over the stability of the volatile Balkan region that went through a series of wars in the 1990s.
Serbia and Kosovo witnessed a spike in tension following two violent incidents in May and September as the war raged in Ukraine. Western allies fear Russia could try to spur Balkan trouble to avert attention from its aggression on Ukraine.
In May, Serb demonstrators in northern Kosovo clashed with NATO peacekeeping troops. In September, a Kosovo policeman and three Serb gunmen were killed in a shootout after about 30 masked men opened fire on a police patrol near the Kosovo village of Banjska.
The two incidents have prompted NATO to beef up its peacekeeping presence in Kosovo. Stoltenberg said on Monday that NATO was considering deploying additional peacekeeping troops.
The NATO head said in Belgrade that some of the 93 troops wounded in clashes with Serb demonstrators had “life-changing injuries.”
“This is unacceptable, the facts must be established. The perpetrators must…