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Barack Obama Statement on Formation of Serbian Government

July 08, 2008

Chicago, IL -- "I congratulate President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic and wish the new government in Belgrade success in tackling the problems that have for too long kept Serbia from achieving its great potential.

Serbs have moved through several painful chapters in their long and proud history. Citizens of Serbia are eager for progress, democratic development and economic growth. In May, voters expressed their desire for a European future, a vision that has been confirmed by the Serbian political leadership through the formation of a government that shares these aspirations. The Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union provides the foundation upon which the new government can build. A Serbian government that devotes its energies to this hopeful vision can count on my full support.

Real progress of course requires positive and responsible relationships with all of Serbia's neighbors, including Kosovo. Relegating inflammatory rhetoric and provocative actions to the past is essential to achieving this. An Obama administration together with our European partners, will work to ensure that all regional actors adhere to such standards.

All Serbs in the region, no matter where they reside, can see their lives improve by active participation in legitimate political institutions at all levels. Rest assured that, as President, I will work with all international and local actors in Kosovo to realize the full array of protections for Serbs there, including enhanced competencies for Serb municipalities, unfettered and undisturbed access and operation of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the right of return and restoration of property for all refugees and displaced persons.

Building a better future also requires honoring obligations from the past. The recent arrest of Stojan Zupljanin was an important step in this direction. I call on the new government in Belgrade to exert maximum efforts to apprehend the remaining fugitives wanted for war crimes, including General Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic.

Serbia and the United States have traditionally enjoyed warm relations as partners and allies. It is time for our countries to return to the shared values and mutual respect that served us so well in the past. My administration will look for a vibrant partner in Belgrade with which we can together cultivate our relationship.

I also wish to convey to Serbs everywhere my best wishes on the occasion of the recent St Vitus's Day."

Barack Obama, Barack Obama Statement on Formation of Serbian Government Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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