Remembering US Senator John McCain: his thoughts on Balkans and relationship between Serbia and RussiaAdriatic Journal 26 August 2018
As the world today remembers John McCain, “Voice of America” also looks back on the last interview it had with the senator, when he visited Belgrade a few weeks after the presidential elections in Serbia last year. In the interview, he advocated for greater involvement of the United States in the Balkans.
When asked if he was worried about Serbia’s agreement to purchase planes, tanks and other equipment from Russia, he replied that in the United States “obviously we can not be happy about the agreement “.
“But I believe that the newly elected President Vučić is trying to carefully balance Russia and Europe. He knows that his citizens are more pro-European than pro-Russian these days.«
He added that at the same time, Serbia has historical relations with Russia.
“I do not think he (Vučić) wants to get too close to Russia, because I consider that most of his people are more pro-western and pro-European oriented than pro-Russian. My conversation with him was productive. If we paid more attention to him and to Serbia, we could have greater cooperation, more joint training, exercises, connections that would be valuable not only for Western interests, but for the region as well, “McCain said.
In that interview, he also pledged to continue the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, saying he was encouraged that both sides are at least receptive to this idea and that one of the reasons for the the situation in the Balkans is that in most countries not all wounds have been healed.
McCain recalled that in a speech in Kosovo’s Assembly he spoke about US’s relationship with Vietnam, the country in which he was a prisoner of war.
“We lost 58,000 Americans whose names were carved into a wall not far from here (in Washington), but we were still able to reconcile. We also fought with Germany and Japan. We must do everything we can to encourage reconciliation, because you can’t keep the old wounds open and at the same time serve the people of these different countries who deserve the future, not the life in the past, “said McCain.
In June 2015, McCain pleasantly surprised the Serbian state delegation and journalists in Washington, when he completely unexpectedly gave statements to the Serbian media, and then took the then Prime Minister Vučić and his delegation on a tour of the Capitol Hill.
The chairman of the Senate Committee for the Armed Forces also spoke with Vučić about the security situation in the region and the European path of Serbia, and in addressing the Serbian media after the meeting, McCain said that the United States would fully support Serbia in the process of European integration.