Biden in the Balkans: United States Supports European Balkans

, by Andrea Petkovic

Biden in the Balkans: United States Supports European Balkans

US Vice-President’s three-day tour of the Western Balkans is being interpreted as the confirmation of the increased interest of the new American administration in the region. Biden’s visit has a great political significance for the whole Balkans and it is expected to change relationships among the countries in the region and thus accelerate their progress towards Euro-Atlantic integrations.

United States Vice-President Joe Biden visited Western Balkans from 19 till 21 May. The intention of the visit was to underline growing understanding and readiness of the new US administration to reengage in the region. Mr Biden visited Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo and met with top local and international officials. He also addressed each country’s parliament.

Biden calls Bosnia-Herzegovina to enact Constitutional Reforms

Mr Biden kicked off his tour with a visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina. During his one day visit he was joined by the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, and they met the members of the State Presidency, the Council of Ministers and leaders of political parties. During these meetings and in his address to the state parliament Mr Biden voiced US support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the constitutional reforms necessary for country’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

New Leaf Turned over in Relations between Serbia and US

The following day, US Vice-President Biden visited Serbia. Mr Biden is the most senior US politician to officially visit Serbia in nearly thirty years, after the visit of then President Jimmy Carter in June 1980.

The intention of the visit was to underline growing understanding and readiness of the new US administration to reengage in the region.

Analysts and Serbian officials describe the visit as a new start in relations between the two countries which started to deteriorate after the US led a NATO bombing campaign to drive Serb forces out of Kosovo in 1999 and got even worse after Washington recognized Kosovo’s independence in 2008. In his talks with Serbian President Tadic, Mr Biden backed Serbian plans to join the EU and emphasized that the US does not expect Serbia to recognize the independence of Kosovo nor is the recognition of the country a precondition for US support to Serbia. However, the US expects Serbia not to obstruct the development of Kosovo, but to cooperate with the international community and help rebuild it and improve the standard of life of Kosovo citizens, including the minority Serbs.

Biden Underlines US Support to Independent Kosovo

Mr Biden wrapped up his three-day tour to the Western Balkans with a visit to Kosovo. Mr Biden is the first senior US official to visit the country since it declared its independence from Serbia last year. He was warmly welcomed by thousands of citizens who greeted him waving US and Kosovo flags in his honour and cheering slogans in which they expressed their gratitude for the US help and support for Kosovo over the years. Separately, minority Serbs staged a protest at the memorial of NATO in northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica. They proclaimed Biden and USA their greatest enemies.

Mr Biden held a speech before the Kosovo Assembly, met with the president and prime minister, and visited U.S. troops assigned to the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. He reiterated that the recognition of Kosovo was an irreversible process and that Kosovo was whole and indivisible.

Mr. Biden praised Kosovo government for the extraordinary efforts they have made to build a functional and effective state and to protect the rights of minorities. Also, he stressed US commitment to a unified, independent and multi-ethnic Kosovo. However, Mr Biden urged Kosovo government to strengthen the rule of law and continue developing free and open society as well as to endorse measures that will give municipal authorities and ethnic communities greater degrees of control of local affairs.

Image: Poster of VP Joe Biden in Pristina Kosovo, source: www.flickr.com

Your comments

  • On 10 July 2009 at 00:37, by Sarantis Michalopoulos Replying to: Biden in the Balkans: United States Supports European Balkans

    Undoubtedly the combination of the facts with the reality of Balkans is quite successful. Nevertheless i would like to focus our attention on the fact that the american geostrategic interests in the area are not mainly connected with the “europeanization” of this subsystem. On the contrary, the principal goal is the accession of Western Balkans in NATO family. The communicative/superficial political statement regarding the enlargement of Europe to this area is just the vehicle for the next step which is the NATO. I would prefer a title like “US supports NATO expansion in the western Balkans via Europe”.

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