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Palmer on Serbia's Visible Progress

From a fireside chat organized by EWB, SAFC & US Embassy, Belgrade

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Special Representative of the State Department for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer assessed that Serbia has made significant progress in recent years, adding that bilateral relations between Serbia and the United States are strong and that there is a clear common vision for the future.

Matthew Palmer took part at a fireside chat conference "The Future of US-Serbian Relations and US Policy towards the Western Balkans", organized by the Congress of Serbian-American Friendship (KSAP) and "East West Bridge" (EWB), talking about Serbia in 1993 when he first visited our country and Serbia today, he pointed out that it is clear that progress has been made.

As he said, during his last visit, he saw more optimistic and positive people, which is completely understandable due to various circumstances in the mid-1990s, such as the war and sanctions, the KSAP and EWB said.

In a conversation with EWB founder Jovan Kovačić, Palmer said that the visible progress that Serbia has experienced in recent years is especially significant, although there is room for progress, and it is clear that optimism is shared by the United States.

"My impression from the last talks with Serbian officials is that fundamentally, bilateral relations between the two countries are strong, but that there is also a clear common vision of the future and the future of Serbia as an EU member, with all areas that qualify it as economically strong states," he said.

The United States supports Serbia's European path

He reiterated that the United States supports Serbia's European path, and speaking about Euroscepticism in the Serbian public, he said that it was not incomprehensible, having in mind that reforms, which in the end prove to be worth the effort, are sometimes difficult.

"The path to EU membership is difficult and often seems endless. However, in practice it has been shown that when a country reaches its goal, it becomes clear to citizens that the benefits far outweigh the difficulties. I expect that this will be the case with Serbia, ie when people see the real benefits of membership, that support for the European path will increase, "Palmer said.

He also pointed out that it is important for the Balkan countries to know that the path of reform is important and always recognized and rewarded.

Speaking about the mini Schengen, Palmer emphasized the importance of regional connections and initiatives that further encourage growth and prosperity.

He reminded of Serbia’s constructive role in regional initiatives such as mini Schengen, but also added that he would like to see the support of the entire region for such initiatives aimed at solidarity and connecting peoples and countries.

Asked to comment on the importance of the DFC for cooperation between Serbia and the United States, Palmer said that the arrival of the American development agency is the best indicator of the good intentions of the United States.

"The arrival of DFC in the Balkans shows that the United States is committed to the development of the Western Balkans, where I would include Greece. DFC in Belgrade works and is open to new business challenges, which is an important opportunity for the entire region and the United States to develop economic cooperation. projects and other important areas that will help the Balkan countries integrate into the West, "he said.

Palmer added that American companies in Serbia have a very positive impression of our country, that they are satisfied with the conditions, quality and creative staff, especially when it comes to scientific and technological activities.

Godfrey: Deepening good relations between Serbia and the United States

The US Ambassador to Serbia, Anthony Godfrey, emphasized the importance of deepening the good relations between the two countries and stated that this cooperation not only contributes to the economic development of Serbia, but also to the United States.

"That has not changed with the arrival of the new administration in the White House, on the contrary, and the administration of President Joseph Biden continues with the same approach," Godfrey said.

The founder of the Congress of Serbian-American Friendship and MP Vladimir Marinkovic said that he was satisfied, as he said, with the now strong friendship between Serbia and the United States, but that there was still room for development.

He added that in addition to economic issues, Serbia also counts on the support of partners from Washington in resolving the Kosovo issue through a constructive dialogue.

EWB founder Jovan Kovačić concluded the conference by saying that this is just the beginning of joint traditional activities that will be held in order to support and understand the same goals of the two countries.

The KSAP and the EWB have previously signed a Declaration reaffirming joint co-operation in areas such as trans-Atlantic co-operation and integration, regional stability, free movement of people, goods, capital and services, gender equality and others.



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