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EU,US officials attend to ‘unfinished business’ in the Balkans

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton have visited Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo since the beginning of the week and are currently winding up a tour of Montenegro and Macedonia in what a US State Department spokesman has described as an attempt to put the finishing touches to “the unfinished business in the Balkans”.

For Hillary Clinton, this so-called “unfinished business” is akin to “family business”. During the presidency of her husband, Bill Clinton, NATO and the EU conducted military operations on the territory of former Yugoslavia. NATO took the side of one of the parties to the civil war in Yugoslavia which broke out in the 1990s. During the bombardments of Serbia NATO resorted to the so-called “method of humanitarian intervention” which received a widespread use in Libya later on. But for Russia’s and China’s veto in the UN Security Council, the US and NATO would be happy to repeat the “Serbian scenario” in Syria.

The current tour of the Balkans has been triggered by Brussels’ and NATO’s fears over Russia’s progressive cooperation with Serbia, Alexander Karasev of the Institute of Slavic Studies says.

“Serbia’s current leadership and President Tomislav Nikolic in particular, are looking to Russia for further economic and political cooperation. Even though certain circles within the EU are far from happy about it, it’s a reality to be reckoned with”.

Belgrade will be coming under more and more pressure as US and EU leaders try to force their own variant of a Kosovo settlement on it. This opinion belongs to Slavonic scholar Yelena Guskova.

“The current influx of US and EU officials into the Balkans means that Serbia is going to come under more pressure. Belgrade is invited to join the EU. Membership in NATO is not on the agenda because about 60% of Serbia’s population is against it”.

The most common misjudgment of the bloody time of the 1990s is a belief that NATO planes launched the bombardments of Serbia in 1999, because of Kosovo. Nothing of the sort. NATO began to drop bombs on Serb positions in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995, with the participation of German Air Force planes.

Neither NATO nor the EU want to recall what this unilateral support cost the Serbs and what ethnic cleansing took place in all former republics of Yugoslavia. 300,000 Serbs were driven out of Croatia, 350,000 – out of Kosovo. Thousands of Serbian homes, churches and monasteries were burned.

According to US newspaper reports, Mrs.Clinton’s visit to the Balkans will become the last of her tenure as Secretary of State as she will leave the post at the beginning of 2013. Experts don’t rule out that she might run for president in the 2016 elections.

Clinton headed for Algeria and Balkans next week

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Algeria to discuss the Mali crisis and to the Balkan states to express support, the Department of State has released today.

The released statement also says that Clinton will meet Algeria’s president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to discuss in detail the recently adopted UN Security Council resolution authorizing West African States to perform a military intervention to oust Islamist rebels from the north of Mali.

Afterwards the Secretary of State will make her way to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo “to demonstrate the enduring US interest, commitment and support for (the Balkans’) future in the European and Euro-Atlantic community.”

The top US diplomat will be joined there by Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief.

In Belgrade and Pristina, Clinton and Ashton will “reiterate US-EU resolve for Serbia and Kosovo to build on previous agreements and advance their dialogue, as well as to encourage concrete steps that will allow those countries to progress on their respective paths to EU membership,” the State Department said.

Clinton will end her tour in Croatia and Albania.

Andrey Fedyashin, Vitaly Radnayev
Nov 1, 2012 14:39 Moscow Time



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