Cablegate: Serbia: Codel Voinovich Discusses European Integration,


DE RUEHBW #0334/01 0571512
R 261512Z FEB 10



E.O. 12958: N/A



1. (SBU) During their February 17-19 visit to Belgrade, Senator
Voinovich and Senator Shaheen expressed strong support for Serbia's
European aspirations and urged the government to tackle remaining
challenges including domestic reforms and finding a modus vivendi
with Kosovo in the wake of the International Court of Justice
opinion. They also thanked the Serbian leadership for pursuing the
Kosovo issue through peaceful mechanisms. The Senators heard from
interlocutors that NATO membership is not a near-term prospect, but
continued participation in Partnership for Peace is seen as a
valuable means of promoting reform. President Tadic and Foreign
Minister Jeremic expressed the intent to resolve outstanding
bilateral issues with neighboring countries, including adopting a
parliamentary resolution on Srebrenica, while Defense Minister
Sutanovac called for a revision of the Military-Technical Agreement
with NATO. Prime Minister Cvetkovic emphasized the government's
commitment to fighting organized crime and expressed the hope that
additional U.S. investment would flow to Serbia. Newly-elected
Patriarch Irinej of the Serbian Orthodox Church told the Senators
that "it would be normal" for Serbia to join the European Union, and
expressed concern for Kosovo Serbs. End Summary.

2. (U) Senator George Voinovich (R-OH, Senate Appropriations
Committee) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH, Senate Foreign Relations
Committee) visited Serbia February 17-19. They were accompanied by
Senate staffers Joseph Lai, Chad Kreikemeier, and Angela Youngen.

President Tadic

3. (SBU) During a two-hour luncheon with the Senators on February
18, President Boris Tadic repeatedly emphasized EU membership as
Serbia's main goal, acknowledging that more work remains to be done
to complete crucial economic and other reforms, especially with
respect to solidifying Serbia's commitment to European values. He
also acknowledged that while the entire Western Balkans region shares
the strategic goal of European integration, approaches toward NATO
differ. While residual public anger would make it difficult to
advance NATO membership for Serbia before the 2012 elections, Tadic
said Serbia fully supported NATO integration of all of its neighbors,
including Bosnia, which he had advocated in conversations with
Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik and other Bosnian Serb
leaders. Tadic underscored Serbia's commitment to cooperation with
the U.S. on fighting organized crime; the Senators commended him on
the political courage he has displayed in fighting corruption and
implementing judicial reform. Tadic said Europe and others would
ultimately pay a high price if the Western Balkans and Turkey were
not integrated into Europe in the near to medium term. He emphasized
Serbia's commitment to working with Greece, Macedonia, Croatia,
Albania and other neighbors to resolve other issues in the region.
He also confirmed his commitment to working with parliament to adopt
a resolution on Srebrenica within the next few weeks.

4. (SBU) With regard to Kosovo, Tadic and his Foreign Policy
Advisor Jovan Ratkovic called for a "realistic and sustainable
solution" that would offset the ongoing sense of defeat and
humiliation for Serbia and acknowledge the "facts on the ground" that
Serbs in northern Kosovo would never accept rule by Pristina. They
emphasized Serbia would be very flexible and defend its interests in
Kosovo only by diplomatic and legal means but asserted that the
"endgame on Kosovo" remained the last danger for Serbia's EU vision.
They called for opening quiet discussions, including with Pristina,
on creative compromises or "win-win" solutions, stating that failure
to find such new accommodations would be destabilizing and play into
the hands of radical political rivals. They also called for U.S. and
NATO flexibility in modifying the air and ground safety zone
restrictions embodied in the Kumanovo Agreement. The Senators
thanked Tadic for pursuing the Kosovo issue through peaceful

Foreign Minister Jeremic

5. (SBU) In a February 19 meeting, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic told
the Senators that Serbia had passed through its most difficult period
in 2008 and considered EU membership its main strategic objective.
He expressed concern about EU enlargement fatigue, while emphasizing
that Serbia would continue toward a future in the EU. Describing
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo as the two main unresolved issues in

the Balkans, Jeremic said Bosnia was more complicated to resolve than
Kosovo and required "strategic thinking." Serbia's approach to
Bosnia, Jeremic continued, was focused on promoting reconciliation
between the three constituent peoples, preserving Bosnia's
territorial integrity, and achieving passage of a parliamentary
resolution on Srebrenica by the largest possible margin. He said
that Serbia supported EU visa liberalization as well as granting
Bosnia-Herzegovina NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) status.

6. (SBU) Jeremic asserted that Serbia's approach to Kosovo marked
the first time in the history of the Balkans that a state addressed a
territorial dispute by purely peaceful means, and that Serbia would
not go to war over Kosovo. Dodging Senator Voinovich's questions on
appropriate levels of NATO troops and the need to focus on quality of
life issues for Kosovo Serbs, Jeremic expressed concern that an ICJ
ruling in Kosovo's favor would create a precedent that would enable
Serbia's northern province of Vojvodina to secede. Emphasizing
Serbia's commitment to dealing with Kosovo through peaceful methods,
Jeremic described Serbia's Kosovo policy by paraphrasing the late
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin that "we will pursue compromise
[with Kosovo] as if there were no independence, and oppose
independence as if there were no compromise."

Defense Minister Sutanovac

7. (SBU) In a February 18 meeting with Senators Voinovich and
Shaheen, Minister of Defense Dragan Sutanovac highlighted his
Ministry's very strong relationship with the United States, crediting
the Ohio National Guard - State Partnership Program. Sutanovac
identified his top three goals as professionalization to create an
all volunteer armed forces, the development of a regional
peacekeeping training center at South Base, and the continuation of
close working relations in the region. Sutanovac said that along
with peacekeepers in Chad, the Ministry of Defense was negotiating
with the Spanish to participate with them in peacekeeping operations
in Lebanon and was very willing to deploy with the Hungarians and
Slovaks in Cyprus. Sutanovac said he supported the MAP process for
Bosnia and Herzegovina and that it should be looked at as a tool,
rather than a reward.

8. (SBU) Sutanovac expressed frustration with a recent campaign by
200 intellectuals to call for a referendum on Serbia's NATO
membership, alleging that public support for membership had fallen
from 27% to 20% as a result. He also said that events in Kosovo had
a negative impact on public support for NATO membership, such as
Secretary General Rasmussen's support for the Peter Feith plan for
integration of northern Kosovo, as well as NATO's role in forming the
Kosovo Security Force (KSF). Sutanovac highlighted the full
democratic control over the military in Serbia, boasting that under
his leadership the military had gone from low public support to being
the most trusted institution in Serbia.

9. (SBU) Sutanovac appealed for more international support for the
Serbian Military and the work he is doing; said that the MOD would
welcome more financial support; claimed that FMF funding for 20-30
HUMVEES would improve Serbian public opinion of the U.S; pushed for
better U.S. participation in the next air show; and expressed concern
about the challenges of reintegrating Serbian military students
trained at U.S. service academies into the Serbian military.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic

10. (SBU) Prime Minister Cvetkovic told Senators Voinovich and
Shaheen on February 18 that U.S. -Serbia relations were improving,
especially following Vice President Biden's visit to Serbia in May
2009. Cvetkovic said that the government coalition in Serbia had one
key pillar - EU integration - and emphasized that Serbia's EU
December 2009 membership application (Ref A) represented the formal
decision of the government that Serbia's future was in the EU.
Cvetkovic told the Senators that Serbia hoped to receive candidacy
status from the EU in 2010. Cvetkovic welcomed the $1.6 billion in
U.S. foreign investment in Serbia and said he hoped for more. He
added that U.S.-Serbia military cooperation was strong, particularly
with the Ohio National Guard, but added that NATO membership was not
on Serbia's agenda at this time. Cvetkovic highlighted the Serbian
government's commitment to fight organized crime, including its
successful cooperation with the U.S Drug Enforcement Agency.
Senator Voinovich said that corruption was an important challenge in
the region that needed to be addressed.

11. (SBU) Cvetkovic said Serbia would only use diplomacy and
peaceful means to fight for Kosovo. The Prime Minister told the

Senators that Serbia wanted new negotiations that would result in a
mutually acceptable solution. Cvetkovic said the government was
still discussing internally its approach to Kosovo and that while
there were signals that Serbia should put forward a proposal on
Kosovo this would be premature.

12. (SBU) Senator Voinovich praised the work of President Tadic and
the government to advance Serbia's EU accession. Voinovich
encouraged Cvetkovic to think about Serbia's relationship with Kosovo
following the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion,
noting that he had encouraged leaders in Kosovo to do the same.
Senator Shaheen said that businesses looked at many aspects of the
business climate, including political stability, and a solution to
Kosovo issues would improve stability and the business environment
for foreign investment. Senator Shaheen said that during the
delegation's meetings in Bosnia, leaders there had expressed
appreciation for Serbia's statements and efforts to support Bosnia's
territorial integrity.

Patriarch Irinej

13. (SBU) Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC) Patriarch Irinej
met with Senators Voinovich and Shaheen on February 18. In response
to Senator Voinovich's comment that the SOC historically had had an
important role to play in society, Irinej said that the SOC had
always been part of the people through good and bad. He emphasized
that the SOC had never been part of the state and had always tried to
advance democracy. Irinej said the SOC's centuries-old presence in
Kosovo was vital and expressed concern about the safety and quality
of life of Kosovo Serbs, asserting that none of the perpetrators of
the 2004 vandalism of churches and monasteries had ever been
prosecuted. He said the timing and details of his enthronement in
Pec in Kosovo (Ref B) were still being worked out.

14. (SBU) Replying to Senator Voinovich's question about the SOC's
position on Serbia's future EU accession, Irinej replied that "it
would be normal," as Serbia was part of Europe and European culture.
In response to the Senators' comments on stability in the western
Balkans, Irinej responded that the Balkans would be better off if the
former Yugoslavia still existed. He said "some individuals had the
wrong desires" during the years when former Yugoslav republics had
declared independence. In addition to ties to the EU, Irinej noted
the importance of U.S. support to Serbia, stating that U.S. opinions
of Serbia and our example of freedom and democracy were essential.


15. (SBU) The visit of Senator Voinovich and Senator Shaheen was the
first full-fledged congressional delegation to visit Belgrade since
Codel Bean in July 2007. The opportunity for dialogue with the
highest levels of the Serbian government, as well as the positive
press coverage, advanced our top policy goals of supporting Serbia's
EU aspirations while pushing for a more pragmatic approach on Kosovo.
End Comment.

16. (U) This cable was cleared by Senator Voinovich and Senator

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Decriminalising Same-Sex Relationships: UN Rights Chief Applauds Indian Decision

“This is a great day for India and for all those who believe in the universality of human rights," Bachelet said. "With this landmark decision, the Indian Supreme Court has taken a big step forward for freedom and equality...” More>>


Myanmar: UN Chief Rohingya Refugee Crisis Enters Second Year

Over 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar to ramshackle refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar area, Bangladesh after being forced from their homes by a military operation which UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein compared, at the time, to ethnic cleansing. More>>


Scott Morrison In Hot Seat: NZ Congratulates Current Australian PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has today congratulated Scott Morrison on winning the leadership of the Australian Liberal Party and has acknowledged outgoing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. More>>


Swing States: Gordon Campbell On Why The US Needs MMP

After the bizarre events this week in Helsinki, the world will be hoping and praying that the US midterm elections in November can put a restraining brake on the presidency of Donald Trump. This may happen, but there’s a highly undemocratic reason why such hopes may be frustrated. More>>


  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC