BRUSSELS, Jul. 11 (RT) - NATO has reaffirmed its open-door policy, saying on Wednesday that it will continue to welcome countries’ aspirations to join the US-led military bloc. NATO leaders outlined their policies during a summit in Washington to mark the 75th anniversary of the bloc.

“The Western Balkans and the Black Sea regions are of strategic importance for the alliance,” NATO members said in their final declaration. They vowed to help the countries of the region “counter malign influence, including disinformation, hybrid, and cyber threats, posed by both state and non-state actors.”

“NATO supports the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of interested countries in this region,” the declaration read.

The US-led alliance admitted the Balkan nation of Montenegro as a member in 2017, while neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina has been holding intermittent negotiations on accession since 2008. Milorad Dodik, the leader of the Serb entity of the federation, recently confirmed that he would block Bosnia and Herzegovina from potentially joining NATO in the future. 

NATO leads the peacekeeping force in Kosovo, deployed in 1999 after the alliance intervened on behalf of ethnically Albanian separatists, and carried out airstrikes on Serbia. 

Russia has maintained that it considers NATO’s expansion eastward a threat to its national security and cited the alliance’s military cooperation with Ukraine as one of the root causes of the conflict with Kiev.

In December 2021, Russia proposed that NATO abandons its open-door approach to accepting new members and sign a comprehensive security treaty with Moscow instead. The bloc rejected the proposal, insisting that its open-door principle is non-negotiable.

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