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Co-operation on European security issues

32 - Relations with the US on the Balkans

Grade: B-
Unity 2/5
Resources 4/5
Outcome 5/10
Total 11/20
Scorecard 2010/11: B+ (14/20)

Even though transatlantic cooperation is good, persistent European disunity over the Balkans ensured a continued US presence and frustrated European aspirations.

The convergence of views on the Balkans is generally high: all agree that Americans should stay engaged while gradually handing over responsibility to Europeans for their own neighbourhood. However, as a result of European disunity, and because they fear they might have to come back if they leave and the situation deteriorates, American scepticism that Europeans can manage the situation entirely on their own is being reinforced.

This is especially true for Kosovo, whose independence is still not recognised by five EU member states (Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain). While their position is generally one of constructive abstention, this division remains a drag on European leadership. It is all the more vexing that 2012 again demonstrated that the EEAS has a clear lead on Serbia–Kosovo negotiations, a lead that Washington acknowledges, as both Europeans and Americans insist on the two countries getting to an agreement as a pre-condition to EU membership. American personnel also contribute to the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX). In late October, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travelled jointly to the region with her EU counterpart Catherine Ashton to express EU–US determination in this regard.

Clinton and Ashton also criticised Bosnian politicians for failing to implement reforms and threatening to derail the Dayton Agreement framework. In a resolution in March, the European Parliament called again for the dissolution of the Office of the High Representative (OHR), while Americans remained opposed. The US often defers to Brussels on Bosnia and views Peter Sorensen, the Special Representative and Head of the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, very favourably. But after a brief improvement at the beginning of 2012, the situation deteriorated. As a result, Americans still see the OHR as the guarantor of the Dayton Agreement framework, even if it does not accomplish much. Lastly, Europeans and Americans cooperate on facilitating Macedonia’s progress towards joining the EU and NATO, but the obstacle of the name dispute remains.