The US “needs to have a strong relationship with Serbia and must find ways to promote a partnership to help the stability of the broader Balkan region.”
This is according to US Congressman Ted Poe, a Republican from Texas.
Poe, who is a co-chair of the Serbian Caucus in the US Congress, spoke with Voice of America after returning from Belgrade this week to say that he would convey Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic’s message to US President Donald Trump “both formally and informally,” and would encourage him to visit Serbia.
“I think that if Trump goes there, he will find that Serbs, just like Americans, very much like him and his unconventional leadership. This visit would be good for Serbia and the United States, I hope he will go,” Voice of America cited Poe as saying on its Serbian language website.
Speaking about a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, that he signed along with 13 other members of Congress, Poe said it was sent because the signatories wished to explain their position that the US needs to have a more positive relationship with Serbia.
“It is good not only for the US but also for Serbia, to talk about how to be better partners. It’ss not only good for bilateral relations but also helps stability in the region. If Serbia is stable in the region, in my opinion other countries of the region, too, will be more stable. Our goal is stability in the region and we have a democratic government in Serbia with which the United States can continue the partnership,” said Poe.
He also pointed out that the United States supports democratic reforms, stating that freedom of the press is one of them.
Poe thinks that the Obama administration “seems to have ignored the Balkans” – which he said was a mistake, one that he said he hoped the Trump administration would not make.
While Serbia has said its main goal is to join the European Union, it has refused to join the bloc in imposing sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, and unlike its neighbor Montenegro, which joined NATO in June, Serbia has expressed no interest in becoming part of that alliance, VOA remarked it its report.
“I appreciate Serbia’s position of being a neutral country, but we should be concerned of the Russian ‘bear’ looking for more places to gobble up, and the Balkans may be one of those places,” Poe said and added that “Europe needs to understand that Russia has not changed its outlook since it was the Soviet Union.”
“They interfere with elections, everybody’s elections. They send disinformation through social media into all countries, they spread their propaganda. Russians really can’t be trusted, but being neutral is a decision Serbia has to make,” said Poe.
As for “the possibilities for economic cooperation” – the US congressman said that “the export of American natural gas to Serbia and other Balkan countries would be beneficial from a geopolitical standpoint, alleviating Russia’s grip on Eastern Europe, where Moscow has the only gas pipeline in the region,” VOA reported in the summary of the interview published on its English language website.
Tanjug cited the interview to report that Poe also said it was his desire for Serbia to be a good place for US companies, and vice-versa.
“Countries that have good economic cooperation are stronger together and encouraging US investments in Serbia is one of my goals, we want to ensure that Serbia is attractive to American business people, and stability is very important. When a country is stable it is easier to persuade investors to come. I am fully in favor of US investments, of any kind, if it will help Serbia,” said the US official.
Commenting on the work of the Serbian Caucus, Poes said it was making “significant progress” and was growing the number of its members and activities.