The new US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey told a Senate hearing that the normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations would be his priority during his term as Washington‘s envoy.
Serbia is a political and economic leader and plays the key role in regional stability.
Serbia‘s development into a modern, democratic and European nation is in the strategic interests of the United States and we support its integration into the European Union. Serbia is at a crossroads and its leader have to implement reforms so that the country can progress towards the EU, the ambassador is quoted as saying by the Voice of America.
Godfrey said the Serbia has to normalize relations with Kosovo to move towards the EU, adding that he will encourage both sides to return to negotiations.
“We are working in Belgrade, Pristina, Washington and Brussels to find a way for Serbia and Kosovo to find a solution and refrain from the counterproductive steps that both sides have taken,’’ he said.
The ambassador said he is aware of what he called “Russia’s malignant influence”, adding that Washington’s goal in the Western Balkans is opposed to Russia’s goals and that he will encourage Serbia to turn to the West which includes a normalization of relations with Kosovo. He said he would invest effort to help improve Serbia’s relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia.
Godfrey said he would continue pressuring the Serbian government to complete the investigation into the killing of the Bytiqi brothers who were killed at the end of the Kosovo war after being arrested by the Serbian police for illegally crossing the border. The ethnic Albanian brothers were American citizens who volunteered to fight in the ranks of the Kosovo Liberation Army.
According to the ambassador, Serbia is an important US partner in terms of military relations and peacekeeping missions.