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Analysts on US engaging in EU politics: Is America completing the work started by the EU?

According to some regional media, Washington is trying to force the EU out of the game and thus take over the resolution of the Kosovo issue

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US diplomat Matthew Palmer's statement that the EU made a historic mistake when it decided not to open membership negotiations with Skopje and Tirana has led many to ask what the US has to do with European integration and EU's policy - but analysts are not too surpsied, whatever motive may be behind this.

Suzana Grubjesic, who was until recently secretary general of the European Movement, sees the increasingly direct involvement of the US in EU politics as Washington's endeavor to complete the work that the EU initiated - to continue the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue and reach a long-term compromise solution to the Kosovo issue.

According to some media in the region, Washington is trying to force the EU out of the game and thus take over the resolution of the Kosovo issue - not because an agreement on the normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations is essentially important to them, but rather as an opportunity for President Donald Trump to get his own "Dayton" (peace accord) in as he fights to be reelected.

Grubjesic believes that while there has been no mention of changing the format of the talks so far, the fact that the US has delegated two special envoys for the Western Balkans (Matthew Palmer and Richard Grenell) suggests that Washington is trying to help the EU, support the efforts so far and finish the job which was started by the Union.

Snežana Grubješić

Photo: Tanjug/Dragan Kujundzic

She also believes that Trump, in the race for his second presidential term, "would not be worse off" if he had some foreign policy success, even in the Western Balkans.

She agrees with Palmer's assessment that the European Council was wrong in delaying the start of EU accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, and adds:

"It will soon become obvious if it was a historical (mistake), because the chance to correct it may appear as soon as at the summit in Zagreb next May."

She adds that this has sent a bad message to the region, undermining the efforts of the two US envoys, as well as diminishing the enthusiasm for reaching a compromise because the EU membership perspective is unclear.

"The main leverage that the EU had, and I hope it still has in the Western Balkans is the promise of membership. This was firmly promised to all countries by the EU at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003. If something has changed in the meantime, and I hope not, it is necessary to tell all countries in the region whether or not they have a prospect of membership," said Grubjesic.

Izazovi i perspektive procesa normalizacije odnosa izmedju Beograda i Pristine

Photo: Tanjug/Sava Radovanovic

Faculty of Political Sciences professor and President of the Center for Foreign Policy Dragan Djukanovic believes that the US will insist on the EU offering some sort of incentive in the field of European integration to those countries that have solved their problems.

"The US will certainly try to somehow accelerate the Europran path of some Western Balkan countries, especially those that have eliminated problems with neighbors such as North Macedonia," Djukanovic told Tanjug.

Djukanovic says Washington will try to influence France or the Netherlands to speed up the Euro-integration process of North Macedonia and Albania and to change EU's position as soon as in March or during the Croatian presidency and the announced summit in May.

"I expect that the US will influence the EU to give a kind of incentive to the countries of the region in order to create a favorable environment so that those who solve certain problems are rewarded in the EU integration process," said Djukanovic.

He assessed that this could be seen in Palmer's address after his meeting with Aleksandar Vucic, which, he says, was essentially related to the absence of a decision to open negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, and not, above all, to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue.

(Telegraf.rs/Tanjug)

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