The special envoy of the US government for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, held an online briefing for journalists about the tensions that are happening in our region with a focus on the conflict between Belgrade and Pristina. He was also asked about Christian Schmidt, that is, about the “counting” of Bakir Izetbegovic.
“I want to reiterate that for the United States Government, the Western Balkans remains a place of enormous opportunity, a dynamic and important part of the world, and a part we count on as a place where we build important partnerships,” he said at the beginning of his opening address to journalists.
He then touched on the Russian aggression against Ukraine and the role of NATO in that conflict, stressing that the countries of the Western Balkans also joined in the condemnation.
“In the Western Balkans, I would say that all countries voted in coordination with the USA and the European Union in all international forums, all the countries of the Western Balkans contributed in their own way to the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. And what we have seen in the past few months is that we have seen both of these organizations, namely NATO and the European Union, strengthen, continue to strengthen through enlargement. We will have two new members of NATO, and I want to congratulate Albania and North Macedonia for taking the important steps necessary to strengthen their candidacy for the European Union. So the expansion is part of the response to this aggression,” he said.
When asked by journalists whether Russia is the cause of what is happening in the Western Balkans, especially in the north of Kosovo, Escobar replied that “what is happening in the Balkans is the result of factors that are happening in the Balkans.”
“Now Russia is really trying to play a role, but that role is not as important as the destabilizing factor of some politicians and some actors operating within the Western Balkans itself,” said Escobar.
He was then asked about the OHR and support for High Representative Christian Schmidt.
Escobar emphasized his support for Schmidt, saying that they are constantly working together to achieve greater stability and opportunities for integration.
“Regarding the recent decision to impose changes in the electoral process, we support them. Those changes will eliminate hate speech, regulate the use of public resources and create some transparency in the process. However, what I do not agree with is some of the rhetoric that were presented by some political parties as a result of that. We should use the elections as an opportunity to strengthen democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and create a peaceful transition of power between those who are elected and those who are not elected. And that is why we reject any kind of mention of conflict, war,” he said.
After that, he clearly emphasized that there will be no war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and he also answered a question about Bakir Izetbegović’s rhetoric, that is, “counting”.
“I must repeat once again that there will be no war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The international community is united in ensuring the security of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We have peacekeeping forces. Those peacekeeping forces will remain. And that is why I encourage the leaders of political parties from all sides to refrain from comments that are raising tensions in the country,” he said.
At the end, he gave his closing remarks, during which he once again mentioned Bosnia and Herzegovina, stating that he was looking forward to “free and fair and open elections and the formation of the government after that”, Klix.ba reports.