Escobar: Serbia to impose sanctions on Russia, CSM a legally binding obligation

NEWS 01.12.2022 19:21
Source: n1

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar said that he has encouraged Serbia to impose sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine and to be more demonstrative of its alignment with European values.

The crisis in Ukraine helped us focus on what is happening in the Western Balkans, said Escobar, noting that in future Russia will not be a credible partner and that it is economically and politically wrong to count on cooperation with Moscow.

Escobar said he would like for the European integration process of the six Western Balkan countries to move faster, adding: “We definitely need more Europe in the region and we definitely need more America in the region.”

Nationalism and ethnic rivalry is really just a mask for corruption, which is the biggest problem for the region, said Escobar, adding that corrupt politicians need to be sanctioned.

Some politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina are coordinating and cooperating with organized criminal groups, these people need to be removed from positions of responsibility, and this applies to the entire region, Escobar said.

He explained that it is not very likely the US will take the lead in the dialogue on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

“This dialogue should be European, mostly because the aspiration for both countries is to join the European Union,” said Escobar, adding that the American side is involved in crafting solutions that it hopes will work for both sides.

He said he was certain that the region’s economic potential will create opportunities for the integration of Western Balkan countries.

The US Deputy Assistant Secretary said that the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities is a legally binding obligation and that it will be implemented.

The 70,000 Serbs living in northern Kosovo are at the center of all of the tensions, said Escobar, adding: “They should be granted all of the protection of the institutions in Kosovo but they also should be permitted to participate in the social, political and economic life of Serbia.”

Speaking for the Europe Center Atlantic Council, Escobar said that Washington has constant and frequent discussions with the European Union members that have not recognized Kosovo about how it can help them move forward the recognition process.

“Kosovo is an independent sovereign, country. The question is not about their status, it’s about the recognition that that status exists,” said Escobar, adding that a binding mutual agreement between Belgrade and Pristina will open the door to more recognitions.

He said it is little likely that anyone in Europe would believe that Kosovo is a part of Serbia.

That does not mean that Kosovo and Serbia cannot cooperate in the field of culture, trade, environmental protection. Belgrade and Pristina will have peaceful relations, which will be achieved by the trans-Atlantic process, said Escobar.

He noted that the future of the region is as multiethnic democracies.