2021-10-11 22:36:53 Western Balkan groups call for US engagement to counter Serbia | Politics News
Western Balkan groups call for US engagement to counter Serbia | Politics News
Albanian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin leaders say a return to US leadership is required to counter Serbia’s “growing militancy.”
Leaders and advocacy organizations from the Albanian-American, Bosnian-American, and Montenegrin-American communities have urged the US to commit to a stronger presence in the Western Balkans region in the face of Serbia’s “growing militancy.”
The signatories expressed concern in an open letter published on Monday, addressed to the US Senate and House foreign relations committees, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, about what they called Serbia’s growing aggression towards Kosovo, but also increasingly towards Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.
“This is of extreme concern to the United States because it directly jeopardizes the peace and stability of the Western Balkans region and… in Europe as a whole,” the letter stated.
The signatories stated that the “most alarming scenes” occurred in Kosovo in late September, when the Serbian government of President Aleksandar Vucic deployed tanks, combat aircraft, and armored vehicles close to the border, after “Serbia reneged on a licence plate agreement negotiated by the EU with Serbia and Kosovo almost a decade ago.”
Earlier this month, a security crisis erupted in Montenegro as a result of the enthronement of the new Montenegrin Metropolitan of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It was carried out by the Church and the government in Podgorica, “whose close ties to Belgrade are well-known, in an inflammatory fashion, provoking ethnic tensions across the country,” according to the report.
Open Letter: A Joint Reaction to Belgrade’s Threats to Western Balkan Security |
Leading advocacy organizations and leaders from the #AlbanianAmerican, #BosnianAmerican, and #MontenegrinAmerican communities have joined forces in a groundbreaking pan-Balkan diaspora appeal. pic.twitter.com/uspcauHO4P
— Drilon S. Gashi (@dsgashi31) 10/10/2021
In Bosnia, Vucic’s “closest regional collaborator,” the Serb member of Bosnia’s presidency, Milorad Dodik, has continued to threaten that Bosnia’s Serb-run entity of Republic Srpska will secede, threatening to reform the “Army of Republic Srpska,” “whose leadership orchestrated the Srebrenica genocide,” in which Serb forces systematically killed over 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys over several days in 1995.
Meanwhile, the Serbian government has called for the creation of a “Serb World,” which, according to the country’s interior minister, aims for the “formal political and institutional ‘unification’ of all ethnic Serbs in the Western Balkans.”
Many in the region are concerned because the call is seen as a revival of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic’s “Greater Serbia” project, which resulted in Europe’s worst atrocities since World War II.
According to the letter, all of Serbia’s “expansionist activities to date have come with the explicit support and backing of the Russian Federation.”
With EU enlargement prospects for the Western Balkans “all but vanished,” it said, “a return to US leadership in the Western Balkans is urgently required.”
In December 1995, the United States played a critical role in securing Kosovo’s sovereignty and implementing the Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia.
The letter stated that “a strong signal must be sent to Belgrade that the use of force will never again be allowed to dictate the nature and direction of Western Balkan politics.”
The signatories also urged congressional leaders to prioritize NATO enlargement for Bosnia and Kosovo.