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Countryman On Kosovo

Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Countryman
Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Countryman

"It is important for Kosovo to continue the very rapid and impressive growth of its own government institutions."

Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Countryman of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs said the United States "is determined to see Kosovo become a country fully-recognized by the international community and a member of all the key international institutions."

In a recent interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation, Deputy Assistant Secretary Countryman said, "At the same time, it is important for Kosovo to continue the very rapid and impressive growth of its own government institutions to demonstrate to the international community that it has both the capability for strong self-governance, that it has the capability to be economically sustainable, and that it has a future as a member of the European Union."

In a separate interview with the Voice of America, Deputy Assistant Secretary Countryman responded to charges of criminal activities leveled against the Kosovo leadership by Swiss Senator Dick Marty in a report for the Council of Europe: "[w]e take this report seriously ... EULEX, the EU Mission for the Rule of Law in Kosovo, has previously examined related charges. If there is new evidence that is contained in this report, or new witnesses, then that needs to be shared with EULEX and with other competent authorities that can investigate this. We expect and we welcome the word of the government in Pristina and Tirana that they will cooperate with any investigation of these charges that’s undertaken.

"[I]n general, the entire purpose of such investigations . . . has been so that we can establish individual responsibility for crimes that have occurred. . . We can’t have collective responsibility in which all Serbs, or all Albanians, or all Croats are blamed for the actions of the few.

"We say repeatedly that there is nothing more important than establishing the rule of law throughout Southeast Europe," Deputy Assistant Secretary Countryman emphasized, "[T]here must be more effective action by the national governments in cooperation with local authorities to work on rule of law."

"[T]he United States is committed to remaining in the Balkans," Deputy Assistant Secretary Countryman concluded. "We were there through the most difficult, violent days of the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, and today we remain ... to provide significant assistance for economic and social development."