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12 Oct, 2010 15:49

US refuses to acknowledge its failures and mistakes in the Balkans - historian

During her visit to the Balkans, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Serbia and Bosnia to embrace political reform and to settle all unresolved issues if they want to join NATO and the EU.

Meeting Tuesday with the Bosnian leadership in the capital of Sarajevo, Clinton called for reconciliation of all ethnic issues and promised continued US support in achieving that goal, the Associated Press reported.

Although the civil war ended 15 years ago, Bosnia's three main ethnic groups still disagree over the future of the country. Many Bosnian Muslims and Croats want a strong central government, but Serbs living in the country fear this will rob them of their autonomy.

The inability to create a strong united state is such a significant issue in Bosnia that it is not going to disappear just because somebody claims it needs to, Serbian historian Nebojsa Malic argues.

I think the US tried to create a client state in Bosnia that would compensate for the conflicts with the Muslim world elsewhere, so they could point to it and say: ‘Look, here’s the country where we helped Muslims, you should be grateful to us,’” he told RT. “It hasn’t really worked well so far, but they refuse to acknowledge the mistake.”

Having visited Bosnia, Clinton moved on to Serbia, where she met with Serbian President Boris Tadic. Clinton’s goal was to persuade the country to make concessions on its refusal to recognize its breakaway territory of Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Although Tadic showed his readiness for talks, he said he would never recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Clinton also tried to put pressure on the country's Serbian minority to embrace political reform, which the Serbs fear will eventually strip them of their autonomy. Serbs, for their part, argue that the US is continuously pressuring them.

Most Serbs scattered around the territory of the former Yugoslavia still remember with resentment that NATO sided with the Muslims during the 1990s ethnic conflict and can't forgive the US-led bombings of Serbian targets.

Commenting on the desire of the Serbian government to trade the country’s past for future membership in the EU, Malic said: “The people of Serbia want a better life; they want to freely trade and communicate with everybody else, but not at the price of their dignity, their culture or their country.

The US is not seen as some selfless benevolent power in Serbia, and unlike their government, the Serbian people are not that willing to join NATO and the European Union, according to Balkan political expert Misha Gavrilovich.

When it comes to the EU, one tends to think of economic and other political and cultural considerations, and that makes sense,” he told RT. “But the sort of conditions that the EU and the US are making indicates that it is not an economic and cultural situation, but one of political pressure to gain concessions out of the region in order to control its resources and its people.

Meanwhile, Clinton continues her tour of the Balkans. On Wednesday she will visit Kosovo, making the same call for reconciliation to the leaders there.