About the Author: Conrad Turner serves as Public Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Belgrade in Serbia.
On October 12 and 13, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid her first-ever visit to Belgrade, Serbia. During her stay, she met with Serbian President Boris Tadic and other officials, as well as social activists, journalists, and alumni of U.S. exchange programs. Her visit comes at a time of improving relations between the United States and Serbia, and heightened efforts by Serbia to speed its progress towards joining the European Union and forging closer ties with Euro-Atlantic security institutions. The United States is a strong supporter of Serbia's European aspirations, and for years has been a steady supporter through USAID programs in the reforms and development necessary for Serbia to gain status as a candidate for membership in the European Union.
The United States is also encouraging Serbia to seek to solve practical issues with all of its neighbors, including Kosovo. A member of NATO's Partnership for Peace, Serbia recently sent a military representative to NATO headquarters to assist its Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mission. The Serbian Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces' excellent cooperation with the Ohio National Guard has for years been a highlight of the bilateral relationship, and this partnership has helped Serbia in its efforts to improve its ability to operate jointly with U.S. and other partner forces.
Secretary Clinton's visit also coincides with an increase in traditional ties between the citizens of both countries, such as high school, university, and professional exchanges, as well as links between cultural, educational, and scientific organizations. This has also been a time of greater opportunities for strengthening trade and investment ties between America and Serbia. While noting the government's accomplishments, the Secretary's meeting with representatives of civil society demonstrates the importance she attaches to the role of ordinary citizens in improving people's lives while protecting human rights, and the role they play in helping the government respond to citizens' needs and improve the quality of its services. Importantly, with her visit to Belgrade, the Secretary also conveyed the message that the United States looks to the future and is both Serbia's friend and supporter.
You can follow the Secretary's travel here.