On a recent visit to Serbia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton observed that while the country still faces challenges, Serbia is clearly on a path toward greater partnership with the Euro-Atlantic community and stronger relations with its neighbors. "The United States is committed to working with Serbia," said Secretary Clinton, "as you advance toward these goals."
No country has more to gain than Serbia by joining the European Union. Membership in the EU could help transform Serbia's economy and anchor the entire region in Europe, said Secretary Clinton.
As part of its EU reforms and preparations, Serbia is committed to beginning a dialogue with Kosovo aimed at improving relations. "That dialogue," said Secretary Clinton, "can and will benefit people in Kosovo and Serbia by addressing practical, day-to-day issues and the long-term relationship between you. It will also have a positive impact on the relationship between Serbia, your neighbors, Europe, and the United States."
In the meantime, civil society organizations are playing a critical role in consolidating the democratic gains that have taken place over the last decade in Serbia. Non-governmental organizations and activists are engaged across the full spectrum of issues, said Secretary Clinton, "and I was encouraged to hear that the Serbian government is creating a new office to facilitate dialogue between civil society and the government."
The U.S. is doing its part through the Civil Society Advocacy Initiative, which is part of the $1 million that the U.S. invests each week in Serbia to help strengthen democracy and fuel economic growth. The Civil Society Advocacy Initiative has provided training to more than five-hundred civil society representatives. And it has helped support more than seventy campaigns to address issues from illegal dumping to human rights.
The United States looks forward to seeing Serbia as part of the Euro-Atlantic community. "Serbia's values, Serbia's traditions, Serbia's aspirations and goals," said Secretary Clinton, "are very much in keeping with what I know will bring a better opportunity and a better future ... to the next generation."