Philip Reeker, a senior US State Department official, is convinced that the administration of President Joe Biden will remain committed to the partnership with Serbia.
- I cannot speculate what the Biden administration will do, but I can say that the American commitment to the Western Balkans and our partnership with Serbia is consistent, from one administration to another – Reeker said in an interview with Tanjug, adding that he believes that support will remain strong.
In that context, he is convinced that the interests of the United States are above “American policy” and that these interests will continue to be the guide in the United States’ relations towards “further brighter, more prosperous, stable and increasingly European future of Serbia and the region.”
Reeker has been in U.S. diplomacy for more than three decades, including senior positions in the State Department.
Paved the way for future agreements
He is now the head of the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia at the State Department, and before that he was in the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama (Barack), acting assistant secretary of state, and during the negotiations in Rambouillet he was a spokesman for Christopher Hill.
Asked to clarify his statement that the status quo between Belgrade and Pristina is unsustainable, and that the Washington agreements are an example of the leadership needed by the Western Balkans, and what that means when it comes to the final settlement of the Kosovo issue, Reeker answered that Belgrade and Pristina they will not reach the full potential of cooperation until their differences are resolved.
– With the mediation of the White House, agreements were reached on September 4 with the Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdulah Hoti and the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, which opened new perspectives for cooperation and strengthening of measures in building trust – states Reeker.
He emphasizes that these agreements have strengthened the foundation for future agreements, opening the perspective for comprehensive normalization of relations, which, he reminds, the EU itself is working on, which otherwise remains the main priority of the USA in the region.
– The implementation of these agreements will not only bring growth and jobs to the citizens of Serbia and Kosovo, but will convince them to have a brighter future at home, in their countries, and will contribute to reconciliation and progress throughout the Western Balkans – says Reeker.
Asked to explain what it means for Serbia and its position as a militarily neutral country, what he recently said at an online regional gathering – that the Western Balkans will remain the focus of the United States until full transatlantic integration is achieved, Reeker stressed that Moscow and Beijing are actively they are working against achieving the set goals in the region – its “integration with the West”.
But, he points out, Serbia has decided for itself that its future is in the West, together with EU membership.
– We support that and we would like to be, together with European partners, part of the choice of Serbian partners. To that end, we have invested significant effort, energy, and resources to help Serbia in the realization of its strategic interest in European integration – says Reeker.
Harmful Russian and Chinese influence
He also emphasizes that Serbia’s path to EU membership is clear.
“The Serbian leadership knows what it needs to do to move forward on that path,” Reeker said.
He hopes that Serbia will make rapid progress towards that goal, which includes improving the rule of law, freedom of the media, and harmonization of foreign and security policy with the European Union.
In the context of the position that the region will remain in the focus of the United States until it gets a full transatlantic structure, and when asked by Tanjug whether Serbia should be worried about potential pressures, as well as what would be the mechanism and goal of such pressure, Reeker answered indirectly. that Europe, and especially the Western Balkans, are the undoubted center of geopolitical competition.
– We continue to deter Russian and Chinese influence in Serbia, and that includes constantly reminding the Serbian leadership that none of these relations help achieve Serbia’s strategic goal of joining the EU, but actually affect the opposite – says Reeker.
The US and the EU, he explains, believe that their collective interests serve best in “cementing” democratic norms, the rule of law, and cooperation based on common values and a common future.
– Russia in Serbia uses the disinformation campaign to distract the public from the sympathies it cultivates towards Western ideals and goals, and it also undermines democratic institutions – claims Reeker.
China, on the other hand, uses investments, which are usually not transparent, nor are the projects of high quality, to “shoe” its way to Serbia said Philip Reeker.
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