BigNews.Biz - Apr 13,2017 - STATEMENT BY SASC CHAIRMAN JOHN McCAIN ON VISIT TO SERBIA
Belgrade, Serbia – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on his visit to Serbia:
“I would like to express my appreciation to Prime Minister Vucic and the Serbian people for their hospitality during my visit. As I traveled through Serbia, my thoughts and prayers were with the families of the two Serbian pilots who lost their lives in a training accident this past Friday.
“In Belgrade, I had the opportunity to congratulate Prime Minister Vucic on his victory in the recent presidential election. I look forward to working together with him and the Serbian government to advance Serbia’s integration into the European community.
“As I travel through Southeastern Europe, my message is simple: the United States’ commitment to a Europe whole, free, and at peace is ironclad. I believe Serbia has a vital role to play in the success of that vision as a force for reconciliation in Southeastern Europe and one of the leading economies in the region.
“During my meeting with Prime Minister Vucic, I commended him on Serbia’s progress on economic reforms and movement towards accession to the European Union. He understands that continuing forward momentum for reform and increasing economic growth will require further work. I believe members of a free and vibrant Serbian civil society—leaders of which met with during my visit—as well as a free and independent media are indispensable allies in these efforts. These patriotic voices are worthy of respect and protection.
“I also conveyed my deep concern about Russia’s destabilizing behavior in Europe, especially the recent attempt to overthrow the government of Serbia’s neighbor, Montenegro. Such aggression undermines stability in the region and shows a lack of respect for the proud nations of Southeastern Europe, including Serbia, who have every right to determine their own future free from external interference.
“Prime Minister Vucic and I also discussed the importance of the EU-facilitated, U.S.-supported dialogue on normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. Advancing this dialogue is in the interests of Serbs and Kosovars alike. It is vital to Serbia and Kosovo’s shared European future. And it is essential to stability in Southeastern Europe. The process of dialogue is difficult, to be sure. But thanks to President Nikolic and Prime Minister Vucic, as well as their counterparts in Pristina, this dialogue has led to significant progress. Bold leadership is required to help this progress continue. I will offer the same message during my visit to Kosovo later this week.
“Finally, I expressed to Prime Minister Vucic my appreciation for Serbia’s contributions to our common security, especially its role in the counter-ISIS coalition. The United States remains Serbia’s most active military partner, with approximately 90 annual combined engagements. I observed one of these during my visit: a Joint Combined Exercise Training (JCET) event with police officers from Serbia’s Special Antiterrorism Unit and U.S. Green Berets. I hope future cooperation like this will deepen our