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Analysis: Balkan Politicians Speak About Potential Impact Of New U.S. Administration

  • Ulrich Buechsenschuetz --> Politicians from throughout the Balkans congratulated George W. Bush on his reelection as U.S. president, while others commented prior to Bush's victory declaration on their expectations from a new U.S. administration.

On 3 November, Serbia and Montenegro Foreign Minister Vuk Draskovic welcomed George W. Bush's victory, Tanjug reported. Addressing the future of relations between the United States and Serbia and Montenegro, Draskovic said that "Bush's victory, as such, is not enough for the United States and Serbia and Montenegro to become strategic partners." Draskovic added that it is necessary for Serbia and Montenegro to adhere to its domestic and international obligations to the Hague-based international war crimes tribunal and to make a clean break with the legacy of former Yugoslav and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's regime.

The president of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, on 3 November congratulated Bush on behalf of the union state's citizens, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Marovic stressed that Serbia and Montenegro is proud of the fact that during Bush's first term, bilateral relations between Serbia and Montenegro and the United States improved to their best level in recent history.

Kosovar Prime Minister Bajram Rexhepi said that he does not expect any shift in the U.S. position relating to the Kosova question, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 3 November. Rexhepi added that both the United States and the EU will be primary actors in the talks on Kosova's final status, which are scheduled for mid-2005.

A spokesman for Kosovar President Ibrahim Rugova predicted on 3 November that the new U.S. administration will "finalize Kosova's independence," adding that Kosova does not want to remain a crisis region but rather become involved in crisis-resolution efforts.

Skelzen Maliqi, a Kosovar Albanian political analyst, said he believes that the Bush administration sees the importance of resolving the Kosova question as soon as possible in order to focus on the development of the entire region.

Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski told the private A1 TV on 3 November that Macedonia will continue to build a strategic partnership with the United States regardless of the winner. Buckovski added that he does not expect U.S. policy toward Macedonia to change.

"I do not think that an election victory for George Bush will be bad for Macedonia," A1 TV quoted conservative opposition Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) Chairman Nikola Gruevski as saying on 3 November. "To the contrary, I expect that the administration, vested with a new and more stable mandate, could considerably contribute by the end of this year or early next year to the recognition of Macedonia under its constitutional name." Under Greek pressure, both the UN and EU have recognized Macedonia as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Croatian Foreign Minister Miomir Zuzul said on 3 November that Bush's reelection was not a surprise, Hina reported. Zuzul said Croatia intends to further develop its bilateral relations with the United States, and expects the new U.S. administration to support Croatia's bid for NATO membership. Regarding international relations, Zuzul said he expects diplomatic relations between the EU and the United States to become less riven.

Perhaps the most enthusiastic reaction to Bush's victory came from Albania. "Once again the United States of America has shown the world how a great and vigorous democracy functions," Prime Minister Fatos Nano said in a statement published on the government's official website. "Furthermore, the American people in their wisdom have endorsed your visionary, courageous, and robust policy of facing up to the threat of terrorism in order to rid the world of this awful evil." Nano added that "the Albanian people remain steadfast in their support of your policy of bringing freedom and liberty to the people of Iraq, and of making the world a safer place. We are proud to be part of your great effort."

[For reaction from around the world to the U.S. presidential election, see RFE/RL's webpage "World Reacts To U.S. Election".]