Ex Foreign FMs: Whoever wins in the US, the Balkans will not be his top priority

NEWS 04.11.2020 22:34
Source: N1

Former foreign ministers of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia told N1 on Wednesday that, considering all the issues that the next U.S. president will have to tackle, the Balkans will not be the top priority regardless of who wins.

“According to all indications, it seems that the US will elect Biden and the Senate will have a Republican majority while Congress will have a Democratic majority,” said ex Croatian Minister Vesna Pusic.

Her former Serbian counterpart, Vuk Jeremic, said that Trump’s early declaration of victory “questioned the legitimacy of the whole process if he is not the winner” and that he too sees that the current percentages indicate Biden will actually win.

According to Jeremic, it makes little sense to predict the outcome at this point, although most of those interpreting the current percentages see Biden coming out as the winner.

Bosnia’s Zlatko Lagumdzija said Trump will dispute Biden’s victory and take it to the court.

“Trump will not hand over power peacefully and then things will continue developing on a legal level, but that will only further poison that polarisation,” he said. Pusic wondered what case Trump will present to the judges.

“He cannot go to court claiming that he was defrauded. He can ask for a recount of the votes, he can do it without any issues, and the only thing he can go to court with is one situation in Pennsylvania which is not that clear, given the time when the mailed votes arrived,” she argued.

If Biden gets 271 electoral votes, the game is over, she said, so Trump “has nothing to go to the Supreme Court with.”

“It's a kind of an intimidation tactic which he is prone to,” she said.

The three discussed what either victory could mean for the Balkans and Jeremic said that if Trump wins, “I would not underestimate the power of the ‘reality show’, especially if he is tied to resolving the Kosovo issue.”

“So far, Trump has not had the opportunity to think about the Balkans, his first thinking about it was this Washington agreement,” Jeremic said, referring to the recent agreement he brokered between Kosovo and Serbia.

Biden has more experience with the Balkans, but it was questionable how much of a priority the region would be for him since he also has to tackle China, Russia and other regions, the former Serbian minister said.

“It’s clear that the people who would take over the top posts in the State Department would know the situation in this region better,” he said.

Jeremic said that the Washington Agreement, as well as the “billions in announced investments in Serbia,” will fall flat regardless of who wins the U.S. election.

“The Washington Agreement set a precedent that will enable Biden, if he is the new president, to invite representatives of Kosovo and Serbia to the White House again, only then there will be no paper containing topics like the 5G network, Hezbollah, moving embassies to Jerusalem … but more serious things,” he said.

According to Pusic, a U.S. with Biden at the helm will be more interested in renewing the relations with Europe, which is also good for the Balkans, but she argued that things will never be the same again.

“Trump’s election has shown how these relationships can turn by 180 degrees. That kind of unquestionable trust of Europe towards America will never exist again, but with the election of Biden, those relations can improve,” she said.

“Trump’s time at the helm of the United States was a warning to Europe that it should and must stand on its own feet and take care of its own foreign policy,” she added.

According to Lagumdzija, if Biden wins, his first priority will be “uniting America” and then NATO consolidation.

“His vision is the Euro-Atlantic integration of the Balkans, which includes Bosnia and Herzegovina. He can give the processes a push, but in the end, it all depends on us,” Lagumdzija said.

“Not even two Bidens can help us if we don't reach an agreement here,” he added.