U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo to pledge the United States' support for these Balkan nations in their bid to integrate into the Euro-Atlantic community and institutions.
Vice President Joe Biden's trip, so early in the Obama administration, demonstrates the importance the White House places on an intensified U.S. engagement in the Balkans.
In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the first country on Mr. Biden's schedule, the Vice President stressed the need for reform in order to improve the country’s prospects for EU membership.
He reaffirmed the United States’ support for the Dayton agreement, for the territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina and for the 2 entities, the Republika Srpska and the Federation.
He expressed concern about the political impasse the 3 ethnic communities – Bosniak, Croat and Serb -- now find themselves in. And he pledged to support those leaders who have the courage to reach across the ethnic divide to find needed compromises to move toward European Union and NATO membership.
"The only real future is to join Europe," said Vice President Biden in an address to the country's parliament. "Failure to do so will ensure you remain among the poorest countries in Europe."
In Serbia, the Vice-President acknowledged that the United States and Serbia have differences regarding Kosovo. Washington is not demanding that Serbia recognize Kosovo's independence as a condition for improved relations. The United States supports Serbia's integration into European and trans-Atlantic institutions.
In Kosovo, the Vice-President promised that the U.S. will maintain its support for Kosovo. The independence of Kosovo, he stated, is irreversible. The U.S. is committed to a unified, multi-ethnic, diversified Kosovo, and will support its bid to become a member in good standing of the Euro-Atlantic community.
He also urged Kosovo’s leaders to build their economy and the capacity of their institutions. And he also pledged U.S. support for Kosovo’s eventual integration into European and trans-Atlantic institutions.
"The door is open for all the countries of this region for the first time in history to be an integral part of a free Europe," said Vice President Biden in a speech in Bosnia's parliament. "The U.S. will help you walk through that door."