NEW YORK – The Balkan region achieved considerable progress over the past year as the regional governments turned more realistic and willing to make tough decisions, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philip Reeker stated.

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At a press briefing in New York, the U.S. high official in charge of the Balkans commended the Belgrade and Pristina governments on the agreement they reached in Brussels and added that they remain committed to the support of the European integration for all countries in the region.

A lot of effort was invested and an extremely important agreement was achieved in April because both sides realised that the status quo can lead nowhere, Reeker said and noted that the implementation of the documents is of crucial importance now, adding that although this may well be the most difficult part but it would lead to better economic possibilities and better life for the citizens of both countries.

He underscored the importance of local elections in Kosovo-Metohija scheduled for November 3.

The most important task now is to encourage people to take part in the elections, Reeker said.

In addition to European integration, Reeker listed rule of law and fight against corruption as very important points for the region.

The U.S. official said that he is aware that grave challenges in the Balkans are still present as the economic crisis is still in force, adding that the U.S. supports economic reforms which would lead to the opening of new jobs and fight against corruption.

Speaking about the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), Reeker expressed regret over the politicians currently prominent there who, according to him, are only minding their narrow interests.

He renounced the claims that the Dayton Treaty is to blame for the current situation in BiH and noted that the agreement put an end to a conflict in mid-90s and it is now up to the BiH politicians to lead BiH to the EU and Euro-Atlantic integration.

The Dayton Treaty is not a problem for Bosnia, it is an excuse for the politicians, Reeker said.

When asked to comment on the statement of a correspondent of Bosnian media who said that Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik is to blame for the current situation in BiH, Reeker said that attention should be turned to the main problems and called on reporters to pose another question.