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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Serbia: Current Issues and U.S. Policy


Steven Woehrel
Specialist in European Affairs

Serbia faces an important crossroads in its development. It is seeking to integrate into the European Union (EU), but its progress has been hindered by tensions with the United States and many EU countries over the independence of Serbia’s former Kosovo province. The global economic crisis poses serious challenges for Serbia. Painful austerity measures have been required for Serbia to receive loans from the IMF and other international financial institutions.

Serbia held parliamentary and presidential elections in May 2012. One party in the former government, the Socialist Party, did much better than anticipated in the parliamentary vote. In another surprise, in the presidential vote the incumbent president Boris Tadic was defeated by Tomislav Nikolic of the nationalist Progressive Party. After protracted negotiations, in July 2012 the Progressives formed a new government with the Socialists and another group, the United Regions of Serbia. Socialist leader Ivica Dacic was elected as Prime Minister.

Serbia has vowed to take all legal and diplomatic measures to preserve its former province of Kosovo as legally part of Serbia. So far, over 90 countries, including the United States and 22 of 27 EU countries, have recognized Kosovo’s independence. Russia, Serbia’s ally on the issue, has used the threat of its Security Council veto to block U.N. membership for Kosovo. After the International Court of Justice ruled in July 2010 that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not contravene international law, the EU pressured Serbia to hold talks with Kosovo starting in March 2011.

Serbia’s other key foreign policy objective is to secure membership in the European Union. In March 2012, the EU accepted Serbia as a candidate for membership after having judged that Belgrade has made sufficient progress in reaching and implementing agreements with Kosovo on a series of practical issues. However, Serbia will not be able to actually start membership talks until it implements agreements already made and reaches a few others with Kosovo. In any case, many years of negotiations will be required before Serbia can join the EU.

In December 2006, Serbia joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PFP) program. PFP is aimed at helping countries come closer to NATO standards and at promoting their cooperation with NATO. Although it supports NATO membership for its neighbors, Serbia is not seeking NATO membership. This may be due to such factors as memories of NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999, U.S. support for Kosovo’s independence, and a desire to maintain close ties with Russia.

U.S.-Serbian relations have improved since the United States recognized Kosovo’s independence in February 2008, when Serbia sharply condemned the U.S. move and demonstrators sacked a portion of the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. During a 2009 visit to Belgrade, Vice President Joseph Biden stressed strong U.S. support for close ties with Serbia. He said the countries could “agree to disagree” on Kosovo’s independence. He called on Serbia to transfer the remaining war criminals to the ICTY, promote reform in neighboring Bosnia, and cooperate with international bodies in Kosovo.

The United States has strongly supported the EU-led talks between Kosovo and Serbia, while making clear that it plays no direct role in them. The United States has applauded the agreements reached by the two sides, as well as the EU’s decision to grant Serbia EU membership candidacy status in March 2012. The United States has called upon Serbia to come to terms with Kosovo within its current borders and to dismantle its security institutions in northern Kosovo.



Date of Report: July 30, 2012
Number of Pages: 12
Order Number: RS22601
Price: $29.95

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Uzbekistan: Recent Developments and U.S. Interests


Jim Nichol
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs

Uzbekistan gained independence at the end of 1991 with the breakup of the Soviet Union. The landlocked country is a potential Central Asian regional power by virtue of its population, the largest in the region, its substantial energy and other resources, and its location at the heart of regional trade and transport networks. The existing president, Islam Karimov, retained his post following the country’s independence, and was reelected in 2000 and 2007. He has pursued a policy of cautiously opening the country to economic and political reforms, and many observers have criticized Uzbekistan’s human rights record.

The United States pursued close ties with Uzbekistan following its independence. After the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001, Uzbekistan offered over-flight and basing rights to U.S. and coalition forces. However, U.S. basing rights at Karshi-Khanabad were terminated in 2005 following U.S. criticism and other actions related to the Karimov government’s allegedly violent crackdown on unrest in the southern city of Andijon. Since then, the United States has attempted to improve relations, particularly in support of operations in Afghanistan. In 2009, Uzbekistan began to participate in the Northern Distribution Network of land, sea, and air transit routes from Europe through Eurasia for the supply of goods for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Cumulative U.S. assistance budgeted for Uzbekistan in FY1992-FY2010 was $971.36 million (all agencies and programs). Of this aid, $393.0 million (about two-fifths) was budgeted for combating weapons of mass destruction (including Comprehensive Threat Reduction aid) or for Foreign Military Financing. Food, health, and other social welfare and humanitarian aid accounted for $222.4 million (nearly one-fourth), and democratization aid accounted for $174.1 million (nearly one-fifth). Budgeted assistance was $11.34 million in FY2011 and an estimated $12.94 million in FY2012, and the Administration has requested $12.595 million for FY2013 (numbers include funds from the Assistance for Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia Account and other “Function 150” foreign aid, and exclude Defense and Energy Department funds).

In FY2003 foreign operations appropriations (P.L. 108-7) and thereafter, Congress prohibited foreign assistance to the government of Uzbekistan unless the Secretary of State determined and reported that Uzbekistan was making substantial progress in meeting commitments to respect human rights; establish a multiparty system; and ensure free and fair elections, freedom of expression, and the independence of the media. In FY2008, Congress added a provision blocking Uzbek government officials from entering the United States if they were deemed to have been responsible for events in Andijon or to have violated other human rights. Consolidated Appropriations for FY2012 (P.L. 112-74; signed into law on December 23, 2011) provides for the Secretary of State to waive conditions on assistance to Uzbekistan for a period of not more than six months and every six months thereafter until September 30, 2013, on national security grounds and as necessary to facilitate U.S. access to and from Afghanistan. Such waivers have been issued during 2012.



Date of Report: August 3, 2012
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: RS21238
Price: $29.95

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