WASHINGTON – Professor at the American John Hopkins University and an expert for Balkan affairs Daniel Serwer commented on the new report made by the Atlantic Council that the US needs to return to a more activist approach on some issues in the Balkans, because EU leadership in a period of big strains on its unity and coherence has failed to resolve some key issues.
Regarding the permanent US military presence, he said that he cannot assume the the US will always be welcome in Kosovo.
“Young Kosovar Albanians don’t understand why the country doesn’t have an army. NATO is starting to be seen as a barrier to getting one,” he said.
Regarding the Serbia – US relations, he mentioned that the Atlantic Council sees the difficulty that Serbia’s relations with Russia pose. But, he added, that it is not the only barrier.
“There are others: Belgrade’s restraints on the press, its failure to establish a truly independent judiciary, its increasing inclination to normalize those responsible for war crimes (and failure to prosecute people responsible for killing Albanian Americans), and its slow approach to normalizing relations with Kosovo.”
There has been serious backsliding on several of these issues in recent years, which makes it difficult for a US president or vice president to embrace Serbia more warmly.
When it comes to the economic development, Serwer explained that all of the Balkan countries have too many resources under the control of political parties for normal free market capitalism to operate effectively.
“That needs to change, through internationally supervised privatization and liquidation. Only politicians can make that happen.”
Serwer concludes by saying that the report is a competent analysis of many current issues in the Balkans, but it offers nothing like a new US strategy for the region.
“What we need to do is complete the strategy we adopted around 2000: get all the countries of the region that want to enter NATO or the EU qualified as quickly as possible and admit them to membership whenever the political winds blow in the right direction.”