What role did Christopher Hill, potentially the new US ambassador to Serbia, play in the Balkans in the 1990s?

If the mission of Christopher Hill, a candidate for the post of new US ambassador to Belgrade, is to complete what he started as the US special envoy for Kosovo in 1998, i.e. to ensure the full independence of the southern Serbian province, the diplomat will now have to face a completely different situation in the region.

Serbia today is a much stronger country politically and economically than it was 20 years ago, the distribution of power in the world is not the same, and China and Russia, without which there is no final solution for Kosovo, have a very strong influence in the region.

The latest indicators show that the administration of US President Joseph Biden is taking a course of “bulldozer diplomacy” towards the Kosovo issue, but also towards the entire Western Balkans.

In addition to bringing Hill and other Clinton administration hawks back to the region, there are increasingly strong “hard” messages about Kosovo and Metohija, such as that of US Deputy Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar, that the most ideal solution to this conundrum would be for Serbia to recognise Kosovo.

Serbia should fear Hill’s return to the Balkan political scene, especially given his past work, as he was allegedly the main author of the unofficial American plan for Kosovo in 1998, which was presented to Slobodan Milosevic and which he rejected.

The proposal at the time stipulated that Kosovo would remain formally united with the State of Serbia and Montenegro and that the Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija would be given the widest possible autonomy, i.e. full judicial, legislative and executive power, including a president. On the other hand, the Kosovo Albanians would have their representatives in the Serbian parliament, government and Supreme Court.

At the end of 1998, in a briefing with Serbian journalists, the transcript of which was published by the US State Department, Hill himself said that the aim of the proposal was not to create a “third republic”, but to establish self-government in Kosovo, form appropriate institutions, divide legislative and executive powers and all matters relating to the “internal status of Kosovo”. He added, however, that the American proposal “leaves the door open for the issue of Kosovo’s external status to be raised in the future”.

Christopher Hill’s nomination as ambassador to Serbia was forwarded to the US Senate on 28 October, i.e. to its Foreign Affairs Committee. In order for a diplomat to serve as ambassador and take up the post, he will also have to get the green light from the Senate. US media say that the nomination for the US ambassador to Serbia and about 20 other ambassadors is “on hold” as Republican Senator Ted Cruz has blocked the whole process due to the Biden administration’s blocking the Russian ‘North Stream 2’ project.

(Vecernje Novosti, 01.11.2021)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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