Press Statement by Ned Price, Department Spokesperson
April 26, 2021 – The United States is committed to supporting the countries of the Western Balkans on their path to European integration and membership in key European and Euro-Atlantic institutions. We are working with Western Balkan countries and our European partners to advance the governance, rule of law, and anti-corruption reforms – as well as the promotion of independent media and vibrant civil societies – that will reinforce the region’s European perspective and advance the long-standing goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.
We are committed to helping the countries of the Western Balkans deepen their own regional economic partnerships, achieve their climate goals, counter Russia’s energy coercion through diversification and clean energy development, and combat corruption and organized crime. We also want to help the region grow and prosper while protecting strategic infrastructure and industries against China’s malign practices.
In addition to our strong economic ties to the region, the United States values its partnerships in the defense and security space, including with our newest NATO Allies, Montenegro and North Macedonia. We intend to further enhance that cooperation through joint training, exercises, deployments, and procurements.
We welcome the progress made by Albania and North Macedonia on critical reforms and continue to support the opening of EU accession negotiations with both countries in June.
The United States stands ready to support work towards a comprehensive, binding normalization agreement between Kosova and Serbia, centered on mutual recognition, that lays the foundations for lasting cooperation and prosperity. We support the EU-facilitated Dialogue and encourage the parties to reengage in this process with a sense of urgency to address both technical and political issues. We will work with Serbia and Kosovo to implement their Washington Commitments in support of the goal of full normalization.
The United States is working with the international community to support Bosnia and Herzegovina in pursuing the reforms that will enable it to prosper and secure EU candidate status, including electoral reforms. The Office of the High Representative (OHR), which was established 25 years ago under the Dayton Peace Agreement, has contributed significantly to peace and stability there. We continue to support the important role of OHR in advancing the 5+2 agenda, with a renewed focus on anticorruption as key to entrenching the rule of law.
As we have seen, recent unwarranted speculation about changing borders in the Balkans along ethnic lines risks fostering instability in the region and evokes memories of past tensions. A stable, prosperous future for the Western Balkans must be based on good governance, rule of law, multi-ethnic democracy, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.