Palmer: Russia is blocking the Western Balkans

Palmer: Russia is blocking the Western Balkans
Mathew Palmer
 The American diplomat Matthew Palmer claims that Russia is blocking many processes in the Western Balkans. During his stay in Sarajevo, he also spoke about the Kosovo issue.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, Matthew Palmer, stated that the US is committed to a very close partnership relationship between NATO and Bosnia and Herzegovina (B-H). During his stay in Sarajevo, he said the US backs Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path to Euro-Atlantic integrations.

"The annual national program (which should be drafted by Bosnia and Herzegovina) would enable the strengthening of the B-H relations with NATO. But this work has to be done by B-H and not by the US," Palmer said, adding that his country supports the establishment of the closest possible relations between NATO and B-H.

Palmer said that this is a technical matter and not a decision to join NATO. "This enables NATO and B-H cooperation to strengthen defense and security mechanisms. I hope Bosnian leaders will be able to reach agreement and draft their first annual national program,  said the US diplomat.

Bosnian leaders must also reach agreement on the establishment and strengthening of federal authorities. "In all these processes, the US will be a partner and friend of the B-H peoples," Palmer said.

Moscow's and Washington's various goals in the Balkans

The US diplomat said the US and Russia have different goals in the Western Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina. "The foundation of American politics in the Western Balkans is the support of Euro-Atlantic integrations. That means joining the EU and NATO for all Balkan countries that want to join. Russians have other goals in the Balkans. They want to see a divided region with a high level of tension. Russians in 2016 have sponsored coup attempts in Montenegro. They have worked against the Prespa Agreement and have blocked the Euro-Atlantic route of North Macedonia. There is no evidence to believe that Russia would like something else in B-H," Palmer said.

The US diplomat stressed that the sanctions against the Serb leaders Milorad Dodik and Nikola Shpiric in this country continue to remain in force, because the US has not seen any change in their policy. "Dodik and Shpiric are under sanctions, and they are the result of their public decisions and attitudes. If they want the removal of sanctions they know what to do," Palmer said, adding that "the US remains a powerful partner in the implementation of the Dayton Agreement, while B-H is a powerful partner in the fight against terrorism."

Ahatovic: "Dodik and others are Russian satellites in the Balkans"

During the visit of Matthew Palmer in Banjaluka, was held the congress of the Serbian party SNSD, in which Milorad Dodik was reelected as the chairman. Dodik said Matthew Palmer is also welcomed in Banjaluka.

"I hope you understand that this is a normal city, with normal people and institutions and that there are no factors trying to harm the processes," Dodik said. "I understand why Bosnians and Croats want to join NATO, because in this alliance are Croatia and Turkey. But they also have to understand of why we do not want to go to NATO." Dodik and Shpiric will not be removed from the US sanctions list as they continue to work against American interests, the analyst Nexhad Ahatovic says.

"American interests in this case are similar to those of B-H, and they are the Euro-Atlantic processes. So Palmer has directly blamed Russia for curbing the processes in the Balkans. The destabilization of B-H and the region through Dodik and other Russian satellites is also in line with the interests of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will thus oppose the US interests in this region and will not extend NATO's scope to this region. Conflicts in the Balkans could destabilize the EU and facilitate Russia's entry into the region. Given the developments so far, Serbia is the main protagonist of the implementation of these ideas," Ahatovic told Deutsche Wellen.
Palmer: Russia is blocking the Western Balkans Palmer: Russia is blocking the Western Balkans Monday, June 17, 2019 Rating: 5
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