A senior State Department official is leading a U.S. delegation to three Western Balkan nations in the coming days following weeks of ethnic tensions in the region.
Counsellor of the United States Department of State, Derek Chollet, and the U.S. delegation will be travelling to Serbia, Kosovo and North Macedonia.
The border between Kosovo and Serbia is open again after roadblocks by protesting Serbs led authorities to close border crossings between Kosovo and Serbia, as authorities worried the tensions could turn violent.
Chollet said on Thursday that his visit next week comes at a key moment.
“The last few weeks have, unfortunately, seen a rise in tensions between Kosovo and Serbia. In the last 48 hours we’ve seen barricades come down, we’ve seen the border crossings reopened between Kosovo and Serbia. That’s good news,” he said.
In recent months, American and European officials were engaged in speeding up the dialogue regarding the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. The European Union has presented a proposal, but Chollet declined to provide details.
“I think sometimes in any negotiation, some of those details are best left behind closed doors until they’re ready. But we think the EU has laid out a viable path. Again, it’s going to be hard, and it’s going to require a lot of work, tough decisions, and courage by leaders to put aside differences and to do what’s in the best interests of their country. We want to help them achieve that goal,” Chollet said.
Who is Derek Chollet?
He is a high-ranking State Department official, one of the four directly appointed by the President of the United States. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić described him as an extremely important man and “more than just an advisor”.
He recently angered Kosovo Albanians when he praised Serbia on Twitter and criticized Pristina for insisting on the re-registration of car license plates.
From 2012-2015, Chollet was the U.S. assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs, where he managed U.S. defence policy toward Europe (including NATO), the Middle East, Africa, and the Western Hemisphere. From 2009 to 2011, he was the principal deputy director of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Policy Planning Staff. During the Clinton Administration, Chollet served as chief speechwriter for UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, and as special adviser to Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott.
(B92, Politika, 11.01.2023)https://www.b92.net/info/vesti/index.php?yyyy=2023&mm=01&dd=11&nav_category=78&nav_id=2271601
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