Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/us : Congressmen Say Focus on Unfinished Business' in Balkans

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/us : Congressmen Say Focus on Unfinished Business' in Balkans

Article excerpt

As efforts continue to reconcile all Balkan countries and integrate them into the EU, US lawmakers have urged the Obama administration to step up its role in pushing the process forward. "The work in the Balkans is not finished until they are all integrated into the EU and NATO," said Rep. Dan Burton (Republican, Indiana), newly-elected chair of the House Subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia, at a hearing, on 9 March. Burton, who recently visited the Balkans, said Washington should concentrate in particular on building long-term peace between Kosovo and Serbia. He voiced concern over attacks on the ethnic Serb minority in Kosovo and their monasteries. Burton argued that if there was violence against the Serbs of Kosovo, "it should impact on Kosovo's membership prospects".

His Democrat colleague, Eliot Engel (New York), the former subcommittee chair, also called for the US to be "totally engaged" in the Balkans, warning that when it was not, "things tend not go right". He added "we have to be there for fairness to prevail". Engel, a long-time supporter of Kosovo's independence, said that while he wanted both Serbia and Kosovo to join the EU, Serbia should not be admitted first because it could then block Kosovo's entry. He wanted Kosovo "to remain a multi-ethnic community with an Albanian majority and minority rights" for the Serbs of Kosovo. Responding to their concerns, Phil Gordon, US assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, stressed that the US was involved in the new, EU-facilitated Kosovo-Serbia talks and asserted that Serb-Kosovar relations were moving in the right direction. …

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