Relations between the United States of America and Serbia (established in 1881 while the Consulat-General in New York was opened in 1879) have been traditionally friendly and comprehensive with the exception of the past decade. This was reflected, inter alia, in the US support to the creation of the first South Slav common state in 1918 (support of the right of peoples to self-determination), the alliance in two world wars, developed political contacts and sizable economic assistance provided by the US to Yugoslavia after the Second World War.
Ever since the democratic changes in Serbia in October 2000, the United States of America has gradually lifted all previously imposed sanctions except on the owners of bank accounts and financial transactions of Slobodan Milosevic’s closest associates. The most important act in the process of normalization of relations was the decision of President Bush of 29 May 2003 to cancel the extraordinary measures introduced on 30 May 1992 and 9 June 1998 which established a special oversight regime on this country. The United States assistance since 5 October 2000 has been of crucial importance in the normalization and stabilization of the political and economic situation in Serbia while, in view of its political weight and influence, the support of the United States for Serbia’s gradual inclusion into international regional organizations was also of essential importance
For the first time since the establishment of the diplomatic relations with the United States, the so-called Serbian Issues Caucus was established in the House of Representatives in August 2004. The formal initiative for its establishment was launched by Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) who is also the Co-Chairman of the Caucus. Its other Co-Chairman is Representative Melissa Bean (D-IL). The Caucus scored its first success by preventing a resolution on the independence of Kosovo and Metohija from being adopted in the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations on 7 October 2004. The Embassy of Serbia launched an initiative to establish a “Serbian Caucus” in the Senate as well. Senators Voinovich and Smith joined the Serbian Issues Caucus in June 2005, making it thus bi-cameral. On 7 October 2005, the Senate adopted a resolution on Kosovo and Metohija (S. Res. 237) by unanimous vote and it is expected that the House of Representatives will soon adopt an identical text of the Senate resolution on Kosovo and Metohija.
The compliance of Serbia with its Hague Tribunal obligations, the central place of which is the arrest and surrender of Ratko Mladic to the Tribunal, is the essential question on the pace of the solution of which depends the continuity and tempo of the ascendant trend of Serbia-United States relations. Serbia fully shares with the United States the same democratic values and standards, as well as the assessments of new challenges and threats facing the world of today.
The trade exchange between the Republic of Serbia and the United States is constantly on the rise. In 2004, it amounted to about US$450 million, with Serbia and Montenegro’s export to the United States standing at US$42.054 million and import from the United States atUS$424.763 million. In 2005, Serbia and Montenegro’s export amounted to US$59.218 million and its import to US$379.318 million. By the volume of the trade exchange, the United States was the ninth trade partner of the Republic of Serbia in 2005. The United States included Serbia into the list of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which is particularly appreciated by Serbia in view of the fact that it enables tariff-free export of over 4 600 products from Serbia to the United States.
A Conference on trade and United States investment in Serbia and Montenegro was held in November 2005. Along with the increase of trade exchange, the Conference provided a new impetus to the development of bilateral economic cooperation.
United States Assistance for Serbia and Montenegro in 2006
As has been the case in the past, the United States assistance for Serbia and Montenegro in 2006 is divided into three parts: US$70 million for Serbia; US$70 million for Kosovo and Metohija and US$15 million for Montenegro. The need for the certification of Serbia’s compliance with its obligations after 31 May 2006 has been retained. In other words, Serbia may count on US$70 million and United States support in international financial institutions if the United States Secretary of State “certifies” on behalf of the President of the United States that Serbia fully cooperates with the Hague Tribunal. However, in addition to the obligation to enable access by the Tribunal investigators to relevant documents and witnesses during investigations, surrender and transfer of Ratko Mladic and other indictees and/or the provision of assistance in his arrest, the conditions have been expanded to include also Radovan Karadzic. It is explicitly said that the United States Secretary of State must confirm to the Appropriations Committees of both Houses of Congress that those two individuals no longer stay in Serbia.
The old provision of the need for certification that Serbia takes steps in accordance with the Dayton Agreement and that it has ceased financial, political, security and other assistance to separate institutions of the Republic of Srpska has been reiterated. Likewise, the certification of Serbia’s active strengthening of the policy of minority rights and the rule of law is necessary