Serbia has made significant strides towards European integration.
The recent arrest of Ratko Mladic, said U.S. Under Secretary of State William Burns, "speaks volumes about Serbia's commitment to justice." The United States is awaiting the arrest of the last remaining at-large Yugoslav war crimes indictee, Goran Hadzic. When he faces justice in The Hague, Serbia will have met its remaining obligations to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Continued cooperation with the Tribunal, when coupled with further progress on internal reforms, will make Serbia a strong candidate for the European Union, or EU.
But Serbia also faces unique challenges to joining the EU. Serbia needs to find a way to come to terms with the reality of Kosovo.
The United States strongly supports the EU-facilitated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and welcomes the first agreements reached. Both sides have indicated a willingness to discuss practical solutions that can improve the lives of everyone in Kosovo. The U.S. applauds the recent agreements reached by Serbian and Kosovar negotiators on resolving freedom of movement and civil registry issues.
In order to join Croatia in its European future, Serbia should continue to join with the region in reconciling itself with its past and adapting to the present. "Let’s be clear," said Under Secretary Burns, "there is simply no possible way for borders in this region to be re-drawn along ethnically clean lines. If such a process is set in motion, there is no way that it can be confined to a single boundary line in the Balkans, and there is no way that it can end peacefully. Any rhetoric calling for the partition of Kosovo and questioning the ability of people of different ethnicities to live together is harmful to regional reconciliation and will not advance Serbia’s strategic goal of European integration."
Cleary, regional cooperation and European integration are the cornerstones of a stronger and more prosperous future for Serbia and the entire Balkan region.