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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/5/22

The United States must strengthen its presence in the Western Balkans.

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It has been more than 25 years since the Dayton Peace Accords, brokered by the United States, which ended the brutal 4 years of siege, military aggression against the state of Bosnia, and ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks (as well as other non-Serbs) by Serbia lead by Milosevic, and his second hands Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

The U.S. and Western countries marked that as a successful foreign policy outcome. But it was not, as the Western world stopped the war after thousands and thousands of Bosniaks civilians had been relentlessly, purposefully killed and raped.

After the proposal and passing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, The United States, as well as its Western partner, have been actively present in the Western Balkans. That presence was further empowered by the ethnic cleansing of Albanian civilians in Kosovo as well, which created a pave way for building a military base.

But that was half a done job. The Dayton Peace Agreement left the Bosnian state unfinished and divided into two ethnically run entities. There are still strong threats of ethnic cleansing and separatism by Serb leaders in Bosnia fully instigated and propped up by regime of Aleksandar Vucic across the Drina River. War criminals such as Ratko Mladic, Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic are still publicly labeled as heroes. Kosovo state is still not fully enjoying international recognition.

Not to mention that in August 2020, Montenegro was, and still, as a matter of fact is, at the edge of being taken over by far right Serbian extremists whose one of core policies is that Montenegro is nothing more than just an extended piece of land which must, without any discussion, be added to Serbia, run by the regime of Aleksandar Vucic and ideally be a proponent and servant of Moscow's foreign policy goals.

One may wonder how this all could have been happening given the NATO base in Kosovo, EU, UN higher representatives in Bosnia, including all types of United States military, civic and diplomatic personnel in Bosnia.

The answer lies in the fact that many United States officials, not just the mentioned personnel, but high leading statesmen, such as congressmen, senators, up to the Secretaries of States or even a President believe that the people of Western Balkans, such as in Bosnia, or Montenegro, are the one who have to take matters into their own hands, and not wait for The U.S. or anyone from the West to fix their lives and conditions.

That is generally true in life, but in the case of Western Balkans, especially in the case of Bosnia, Montenegro, and Kosovo, that concept cannot apply yet, given the fact the United States has been engaged into the statehood of these countries, and creation of ground base for their democratic, Euro-Atlantic course since the very beginning of those processes.

The point with this engagement is that you cannot leave someone in the middle of helping them because that will cause more harm than the half help you provided by then. And that is what exactly happened with the U.S.' engagement. The U.S. practically abandoned these countries in the middle of their revival process, leaving them with unskilled, politically shaky European administrations to build their statehood, which has never happened, and will it never happen unless the U.S. steps in, even more strongly and assertively than it did in Bosnian in 1995, or in Kosovo in 2000.

The political and military engagement of the United States in Western Balkans started diminishing with Mr. Bush younger, continued with even a higher trend under Mr. Obama, as well did it continue under Mr. Trump.

Now, I am just wondering, with all due respect, what has President Biden been waiting for? He's taken a grasp of control over the pandemic in the U.S., has exited Afghanistan. Two main concerns for his incoming administration last year. Of course, there always issues and concerns in the world. And as a former United States Senator, he is very well acquainted with the circumstances in the Western Balkans, and aware of how much United States' real presence is needed there.

But now, it is the right time to drastically shift focus to Bosnia, Kosovo and Montenegro. Not only is the right time, but it is the must time.

The regime of Aleksandar Vucic in Serbia, as well as his prepaid political servants in Bosnia such as Milorad Dodik, and others in Montenegro and Kosovo, have been relentlessly working to create political, economic, and military instability in the region, where Aleksandar Vucic would afterwards step in as a savior, with a Chinese Communist Party, or Moscow agenda (depending on whose offer he would find more lucrative).

He, Aleksandar Vucic verbally, still tries to portray Serbian political and military position as neutral, which is absurd, given his constant and strong vouching for the Euro-Atlantic course when he was running for office.

Serbian ministries of defense, justice, and police, people super personally loyal to him, constantly insult Euro-Atlantic agenda, labeling it as something which has no place in Serbia, or as simply very anti-Serbian agenda, while Mr. Vucic, and those ministries are constantly, warmly, and regularly meeting CCP and Moscow high representatives, expressing their strong interesting in political and military cooperation with those centers.

The United States must awake, and practically, politically, militarily reassure Bosnia, Kosovo, and Montenegro that they are going to be able finish up their statehood, without abandoning their democratic and Euro-Atlantic agenda, and falling into the hands of Aleksandar Vucic's regime. And that reassurance is not possible with second, or third grade diplomats, who cannot even enjoy an elementary dose of personal respect by political bullies such as Milorad Dodik, or Aleksandar Vucic.

It will require a broader and more concrete framework, but more importantly it will require actual implementation of that framework, rather than just leaving it in the air as some announcements, which Aleksandar Vucic and Milorad Dodik will laugh at.

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The United States must strengthen its presence in the Western Balkans.

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