The United States seeks to strengthen its relationship with Serbia through deepening cooperation based on mutual interest and respect.
In 1999, the United States broke off relations with the “Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” (FRY), a predecessor state that included Serbia, when the FRY launched an ethnic cleansing and deportation campaign against noncombatant ethnic Albanians. This was followed by a bombing campaign of the FRY by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that lasted nearly 78 days until the FRY Government agreed to allow the establishment of a United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), which allowed displaced persons and refugees to return to their homes. The United States formally reopened its embassy to the FRY in 2001. In 2003, the union of Serbia and Montenegro succeeded the FRY, which in turn dissolved in 2006 when Montenegro became independent following a referendum. After a UN-backed process to determine the province’s future status, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, which the U.S. recognized, but Serbia rejected. Consequently, Serbia withdrew its ambassador to the U.S. from February to October 2008. Pursuant to its constitution, the Government of Serbia still considers Kosovo to be part of its territory and has not recognized Kosovo’s independence, although more than 100 countries have done so.
In 2011, the European Union (EU) facilitated the Brussels Dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo to discuss practical issues, such as the mutual acceptance of university diplomas. Under the leadership of EU High Representative Ashton, the Dialogue intensified in October 2012, as the Prime Ministers of Serbia and Kosovo began a series of meetings that led them to initial a first agreement on normalization of relations on April 19, 2013. As a result of the Government’s initial steps toward implementation of that agreement, the EU opened accession talks with Serbia on January 21, 2014. Thanks to further progress on Dialogue implementation, in 2015 Serbia opened the first two chapters of the EU acquis. The U.S. has supported the Dialogue process since it began, and the U.S. will continue to support the efforts of the Governments of Serbia and Kosovo to fully implement the agreement. The U.S. will also continue to support the Government of Serbia’s efforts to progress in EU accession talks, and to broaden its engagements in pursuit of Euro-Atlantic integration.
U.S. Assistance to Serbia
The U.S. Government’s assistance goals in Serbia are to strengthen the institutional capacity of key government bodies, promote transparency through the improvement of adherence to the rule of law, support civil society development, encourage efforts to strengthen regional stability, and create opportunities for economic growth. A fact sheet on U.S. assistance to Serbia can be found here.
Bilateral Economic Relations
Serbia’s designation as an EU candidate country, and progress that the Government of Serbia makes in EU accession talks, will likely spur continued interest in the country, both in terms of investment potential and as an export market for U.S. goods and services. Serbia also seeks to join the World Trade Organization. The country’s accomplishments in modernizing legislation to conform to EU and international standards in nearly all areas affecting the economy, from intellectual property rights to foreign trade, have been impressive, but must continue.
Among the leading U.S. investors in Serbia are KKR, Philip Morris, Ball Packaging, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Cooper Tire and Van Drunen Farms. Many other leading U.S. firms, from a broad variety of industrial and service sectors, have a significant presence in Serbia. There has been increased interest from U.S. ICT companies in Serbia with specific emphasis on opportunities in e-government, cloud computing, digitization, systems integration and IT security. Microsoft signed a $34 million contract to provide software to Serbian Government offices in 2013.
Serbia’s Membership in International Organizations
Serbia and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank. Serbia is a member of the Council of Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Partnership for Peace.
Serbia maintains an embassy in the United States at 2134 Kalorama Rd., NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-0333).