State Department: US Commitment to the Western Balkans

A State Department statement by Spokesman Ned Price outlines US commitments to the Western Balkans.

Full notice:

The United States is committed to supporting the countries of the Western Balkans on their path to European integration and membership in key European and Euro-Atlantic institutions. We are working with the Western Balkan countries and our European partners to advance governance, the rule of law and anti-corruption reforms – as well as the promotion of independent media and vibrant civil society – that will strengthen the region’s European perspective and advance long – the permanent goal of an entire, free and peaceful Europe.

We are committed to helping the countries of the Western Balkans deepen their regional economic partnership, achieve their climate goals, counter Russia’s energy obligation through diversification and development of clean energy, and fight corruption and organized crime. We also want to help the region grow and prosper by protecting its strategic infrastructure and industries against China’s malicious practices.

In addition to our strong economic ties with the region, the United States appreciates its defense and security partnerships, including with our newest NATO allies, Montenegro and northern Macedonia. We aim to further enhance that collaboration through joint training, exercises, deployment and procurement.

We welcome the progress made by Albania and Northern Macedonia in critical reforms and continue to support the opening of EU accession negotiations with both countries in June.

The United States stands ready to support the work towards a comprehensive, binding normalization agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, focused on mutual recognition, which lays the foundations for sustainable cooperation and prosperity. We support the EU-facilitated Dialogue and encourage the parties to re-engage in this process with a sense of urgency to address technical and political issues. We will work with Serbia and Kosovo to implement their commitments in Washington in support of the goal of full normalization.

The United States is working with the international community to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in pursuing reforms that will enable it to prosper and secure EU candidate status, including electoral reforms. The Office of the High Representative (OHR), which was established 25 years ago under the Dayton Peace Accords, has made significant contributions to peace and stability there. We continue to support the important role of the OHR in advancing the 5 + 2 agenda, with a new focus on anti-corruption as essential to the rule of law.

As we have seen, recent unwarranted speculation about changing borders in the Balkans along ethnic lines risks fomenting instability in the region and evoking memories of past tensions. A sustainable, prosperous future for the Western Balkans must be based on good governance, the rule of law, multi-ethnic democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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