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PM Vucic and the US diplomat Yee: Peace and stability for the Western Balkans

Serbian Prime Minister and President-elect Aleksandar Vucic and the US State Department official Hoyt Brian Yee stated, after a meeting in Belgrade on Wednesday, that the two countries are dedicated to maintaining peace, stability, and the EU accession of the Western Balkans.

Srdjan Ilic: US diplomat Hoyt Brian Yee (left) and PM and president elect Aleksandar Vucic (right)
Photo: Srdjan Ilic / US diplomat Hoyt Brian Yee (left) and PM and president elect Aleksandar Vucic (right)

The Region without corruption, drug trafficking, and crime is in the best interest of the US, stated Yee at the press conference after the meeting with PM Vucic. Yee added that the US is also interested in reconciliation between the countries of the Western Balkans, but also in helping these countries attract new investments.

He also stated that the USA will collaborate with Russia in the Western Balkans wherever they can find common ground.

“When our interests, values, and goals are incompatible and conflicted, we will strongly protect the interests of our allies and partners. We are convinced that Russia will maintain its constructive role in the Balkans, but we will closely monitor their activities,” said Yee.

The US diplomat mentioned that “what happened in Montenegro last October, as well as the energy policy of Russia, brings instability in certain countries.” During parliamentary election in Montenegro in October, the Government of this country accused its political enemies for plotting coup d’etat in collaboration with Russia.

“I do not want to say that behind every move [of Russia] there is a bad intention, but not every move is well intended either,” stated Yee.

According to his words, Washington believes that it is important to restrain from reacting to fake news from Russia or other sources.

Yee said it is important that the EU clearly states what its standards and expectations from the Western Balkans are, and that the governments in the region should meet those standards even if they are difficult.

“The USA and Europe want to give material and technical support to the Region to meet the high standards for integration,” said Yee.

At the same time, he said, these countries are expected to show the political will to go forward and that their goal is integration even when it is not popular.

PM and President-elect Vucic stated that the US Administration understands that the most important political objective in the Western Balkans is to preserve peace and stability, because without it there is no economic progress.

“That objective is crucial, because peace and stability mean better economy, more investments, and increased export,” said PM Vucic.

PM Vucic shared his concerns with Yee about the possibility of forming a Kosovo army, but he pointed out that Serbia will be dedicated to dialog with ethnic Albanians.

According to PM Vucic, the dialog with the Albanians will continue on Wednesday evening over a dinner in Brussels. The leaders of the Western Balkans countries are invited to Brussels by Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

“We have to solve all the problems with them [Albanians] through dialog,” said Vucic, adding that Yee helped the dialog on several occasions.

Talking about Belgrade-Washington bilateral relations, PM Vucic stated that they are good and open, noting that it is very important for Serbia.

“Our bilateral relations are good and going in the right direction. For us it is very important to have good relations with the US. We do not have the same views on the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, but I expressed appreciation for the behaviour of KFOR and the presence of troops in Kosovo, making the Serb population feel more secure,” said PM Vucic.

When asked whether the American guest had complaints about the procurement of weapons in Serbia, Vučić said that Serbia as an independent state has "sovereign right to produce and buy arms."

“We acted and will act as a sovereign state. Hoyt Yee did not mention the arms deals with Russia, but if he did, I would not have listened,” said PM Vucic.

Serbia recently bought six MiG 29 aircrafts from Russia and made an arms deal worth 180 million euros.

Natasa Bogovic

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