Former US Ambassador to Serbia William Montgomery believes that the United States is guided by the wrong stereotypes of the 90s in its Balkan policy.
The diplomat wrote about this in a column for KosovoOnline, the correspondent of PolitNavigator reports.
“American foreign policy experts, including representatives of non-governmental organizations, former high-ranking politicians and members of Congress, share a number of core beliefs and views on the Balkans,” says Montgomery. – They appeared in the early 90s and have changed little since then. It doesn’t depend on political affiliation.
President Biden shared these views when he visited Belgrade about 19 years ago, and I think they have not changed much since then. Key points: the belief that the Serbs under Slobodan Milosevic were the main perpetrators of violence in the Balkans; a firm conviction that Bosnia must remain united within its current borders and that ethnic groups in that country must find ways of reconciliation and working together, and a firm conviction that Kosovo has earned independence within its current borders due to persecution Kosovar Albanians in the Milosevic era ”.
According to the ex-ambassador, the United States believes that both in Kosovo and in Bosnia, different ethnic groups should jointly build multi-ethnic states, but the experience of the past twenty-odd years has shown that this approach does not work.
“It should also be noted that these people in the United States do not believe that the European Union, left to itself, will adhere to such a policy,” the diplomat said. “This is the main reason why, 25 years after the end of the war in Bosnia, the Peace Implementation Council and its High Representative still exist. The European Union wants to abolish it and entrust these functions to its representative. From the American perspective, the problem is that it will take away America’s role over Bosnia through the Peace Implementation Council and possibly lead to changes that American politicians do not want. ”
Montgomery notes that each region has its own specific problems, but the West is rowing everyone with the same brush, fearing that any change in borders or politics in one region will inevitably lead to attempts of similar changes in another. For example, they will give a new breath to separatist tendencies in Spain.
“The likelihood of serious, possibly rampant violence in any country in the event of an attempt to change borders is a legitimate concern. Bosnian Muslims believe that they “paid in their blood” to keep Bosnia united with a much stronger central government role.
In Kosovo, the Kosovar Albanians have learned the lesson: Peaceful resistance has failed, and success has been achieved through armed violence initiated by the Koovo Liberation Army. Unfortunately, they are good at playing the card of the EU-United States conflict, and without much consequence ignore the promises they made in the negotiations or directly to the West. Moreover, the politicians of the Kosovar Albanians are much more interested in increasing their own popularity within the country than in solving the much more important issue of reconciliation with Serbia.
Although there are no wars at the moment, inter-ethnic relations in Bosnia and Kosovo remain very bad. There was little, if any, reconciliation. These two areas (BiH and Kosovo – ed.) Remain blocked within the framework of the imposed political systems that are unstable. “
Montgomery believes that the Trump administration did not understand the Balkans well and was more involved in promoting Israeli interests there. And in reality, she has not had the opportunity to achieve anything important because of the opposition from the EU, Republicans and the Kosovar Albanian elite.
“The fact remains that the Kosovar Albanians are encouraged to take extreme positions because they think they have US support. They will not be satisfied with anything other than full recognition by Belgrade within its current borders. Meanwhile, Serbia is under increasing pressure, although Serbia’s membership in the EU is very far away, and the promises of the Kosovo leadership in “dialogues” with Serbia have not been fulfilled.
I do not understand why Serbia could have believed that further concessions from its side would be respected by concessions from the other side. Hard as it is to believe it, the West until today did not understand the significance of the Kosovo issue for Serbia … Until this is fully realized, there will be no real progress, negotiations will fail and Serbia will be under constant pressure.
Instead of directly dealing with the situation in Bosnia or Kosovo, the West will exert strong pressure on the Serbian government, but the only thing that can be achieved by this is to push Serbia further from the West and bring the Balkans into permanent instability … The main conclusion remains unchanged – the Balkan countries cannot reconcile on their own, and the actions of the international community, although well-intentioned, only increase instability, ”concludes Montgomery.