Comment 27 Oct 17

Why is the US Probing Serbian Loyalties?

When a top US diplomat accused Serbia of sitting on the fence between Russia and the EU, he really put the cat among the pigeons - but what brought on the sudden demand for fealty?

Milan Misic
Hoyt Brian Yee, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, responsible for US relations with the countries of Central Europe and South Central Europe speaks during a meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Belgrade. Photo: Darko Vojinovic/AP

Has the US abruptly changed its stance towards Serbia? Is it a unilateral move or a diplomatic offensive coordinated with the European Union?

These are the basic questions after the top US diplomat in the region, Hoyt Brian Yee, dropped a bombshell on Monday stating at an economic summit here that Serbia “cannot sit on two chairs at the same time, especially if they are that far apart”.

Hopes that the comment was an off the cuff observation were dashed the next day when Yee, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and reaffirmed his perception that “Serbia is with one foot on a EU path, and another in a union with Russia”.

But the most unusual aspect of that hour and a half of “absolutely open and honest” conversation – as described by the president’s cabinet to the state-owned Tanjug – was that, at first, its contents would only be known “if the US side is willing to communicate that,” according to a Serbian source.

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