Washington — The United States sees a bright future for Europe’s Balkan states as they make progress toward full integration into the European and Euro-Atlantic communities and move forward from past conflicts, said Philip Reeker, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs
Speaking in Washington October 19, Reeker said U.S. officials “believe very much … that the future of the region is a future where every country can achieve its European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations, where no country that chooses the path of integration is left behind.”
The region has collectively grown over the past 100 years from a place where its people were ruled by “aged monarchs” and “had no particular say in their own future.”
Now there are democracies in the Balkans whose citizens can “vote and have a say about their future and what they want for themselves, for their children and their grandchildren,” Reeker said.
“They have spoken loudly and said they want peace and they want to move forward on the paths of Euro-Atlantic integration, broadly, because they can see how that has been the key to success in the rest of Europe,” he said.
Post–World War II European institutions such as the European Union (EU), the European Common Market, NATO and others have given the people of the Balkans “an outline and a structure” of how their countries can “maintain their own identities and yet work together with their neighbors not in warfare but in pursuing common security and prosperity,” he said.
Reeker also said the United States is pleased that the EU-facilitated dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo is continuing.
“The dialogue is absolutely critical,” he said, and so far the meetings have been “conducted in a good and constructive atmosphere.”
He said the normalization of relations between the two countries and the resolution of their differences will allow both to “move forward on their European paths,” which will lead to better lives for their citizens.
“The entire European integration path and why we support it is because it leads to demonstrably greater stability and greater prosperity. And I think that's something that all the people of Serbia want. I know it's something the people of Kosovo want, and of course, it remains a shared goal throughout the region,” he said.
He welcomed a resolution passed by Kosovo’s assembly October 18 in support of the dialogue and good neighborly relations with Serbia, saying the measure was “extremely well-timed. ... The people of Kosovo endorse and support this effort, as do we.”
The United States and Serbia are commemorating 130 years of bilateral relations in 2012. Reeker said U.S. officials “support and continue to support Serbia's path towards EU membership.”
After winning elections earlier in the year, Serbia’s leaders have a strong mandate to move forward on the dialogue with Kosovo, to undertake the reforms needed to join the EU, to improve the atmosphere in the region and to create better opportunity for economic growth and progress, he said.
“Serbia remains dedicated towards the European path. And we support that fully with our assistance program, with our diplomacy, with our support for the dialogue that the European Union is facilitating,” Reeker said.