Comment 30 May 17

Trump’s Presidency Keeps US Balkan Policy Unchanged

While many expected US foreign policy to undergo some U-turns under Trump, his lack of engagement in international affairs – with a few exceptions – seems to mean Washington’s role in the Balkans is tantamount to “leading from behind”.

Florian Bieber
BIRN
Hoyt Brian Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, is responsible for US relations with the countries of Central Europe and South Central Europe. Photo: Darko Vojinovic/AP

Since US President Donald Trump’s election, the country’s foreign policy has been in disarray. With his erratic statements, dismissive attitude towards NATO and other traditional allies, open disdain for the EU and preference for autocrats, the level of geopolitical uncertainty has been higher than with any incoming US president for decades.

The US State Department still lacks key appointments, including the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, a post that Victoria Nuland held during the Obama Administration.

In this void of no discernible Balkan policy from the Trump administration, controversial statements by congressmen have gained more weight, such as a claim by Dana Rohrabacher from the House of Representatives that Macedonia is not a country or Rand Paul in the Senate opposing Montenegrin NATO membership. Finally, two letters penned by conservative congressmen questioned the use of US AID assistance through Open Society network projects.

Macedonia subsequently raised the important question of whether these forays reflected the administration’s actual policies or had just been the product of lobbying efforts.

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