I prepared these speaking notes for a briefing on
the Balkans today:
1. The US is responsible for three peace
agreements in the Balkans: Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia, leaving
behind a web that has prevented war for more than 15 years.
2. All the countries of the region have made
substantial progress in political and economic reform.
3. But progress has slowed and even stalled since
the European recession.
4. The Greek financial crisis, the massive flow of
refugees from the Middle East and Africa, and Brexit have made it
doubtful that the promise of EU membership can be fulfilled any time
5. EU charm is not working as well as it once did,
despite Mogherini’s strong statements.
6. This is a problem for the US because we have
been depending on Europe to carry the burden in the Balkans, with US
support when needed.
7. But if Brussels fails, the peace agreements
could unravel, with serious consequences: heightened migration not
only through but from the Balkans, growing radicalization of Balkan
Muslims, and increasing Russian troublemaking near and even inside
8. What is needed is mainly a diplomatic, not a
military, effort to complete Balkan peace processes so that all the
countries of the region can join NATO and the EU, if they wish to do
9.his diplomatic effort could include the
Recommitment with Brussels to existing
Balkan borders and states, including a planned response to any
scheduling of a Republika Srpska independence referendum.
Accelerated NATO and EU membership.
Better carrots and sticks, including
expanded trade and targeted sanctions.
Refocus aid on rule of law, particularly
anti-corruption and countering extremism.
Increased emphasis on National Guard
cooperation with Serbia, Kosovo Bosnia and Herzegovina, and
Establish a region-wide truth and
An enhanced effort to solve country-specific
issues: Bosnia’s constitutional and electoral inadequacies, UN
membership for Kosovo, Macedonia’s name.
10. In addition, we need to counter Russian
troublemaking by reducing Balkan dependence on Moscow’s gas,
sanctioning those who finance Balkan leaders who threaten peace,
beefing up our media capabilities, and consulting with Balkan
governments on Russian election meddling.
11. These are not expensive things, but important
ones. Doing them would preserve peace and stability, avoid major
costs, limit Russian troublemaking and give us a lot of secure and