Serbia–United States relations

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Serbia – United States relations
Map indicating locations of Serbia and USA


United States

Serbian–American relations are bilateral relations between the governments of Serbia and the United States. They were first established in 1882.citation needed From 1918 to 2006 the United States maintained relations with the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, SFR Yugoslavia, and Serbia and Montenegro, of which Serbia is considered the legal successor state.1

According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, only 20% of Serbians approve of U.S. leadership, with 57% disapproving and 22% uncertain, the fifth-lowest rating for any surveyed European country.2



Diplomatic relation between then-Kingdom of Serbia and the United States were established in the 19th century. In 1879 the Serbian Consulate-General in New York was opened. On 3 February 1882 the Serbian Parliament adopted a contract and Convention of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Serbia and the United States, given by King Milan Obrenović. The United States Senate adopted both documents on July 5, 1882 without debate or amendments. On November 10, 1882, Eugene Schuyler became the first United States ambassador in Serbia.3

World War II and Cold War relations (1941-1991)

During World War II, there were numerous encounters between Yugoslavs and Americans. The United States Air Force (USAF) and the British Royal Air Force began bombing Belgrade in April 1944 due to Nazi occupation.4 There were also incidents like Operation Halyard in which several hundred American pilots were rescued by Chetniks.5 Simultaneously, the Office of Strategic Services had extensive relations with the Chetniks under William Donovan's administration.67 President Harry S. Truman dedicated a Legion of Merit to Chetnik leader Draža Mihailović,8 but the award wasn't revealed publicly until 2005.910

Josip Broz Tito and Jimmy Carter (left side of the table) at a US-Yugoslav summit in 1978.

After the end of World War II, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ) was formed. One of the first diplomatic contacts made with the new communist government was the US Department of State's request for the US Army to testify at the Mihailović trial.11 However, the request was shunned and early relations between the United States and the government of Josip Broz Tito became strained, as American diplomats were furious over Mihailović's execution in 1946.1213 Relations degraded even further a month later, when two USAF C-47 Skytrain cargo aircraft were shot down over Yugoslavia in the space of two weeks.14 More USAF aircraft were shot down over Yugoslavia up to 1948.15 As a result, U.S. senator Thomas Dodd staunchly opposed American financial aid to the Tito government,16 even saying that "Tito had bloodied hands." In one of Josip Broz Tito's early visits to the United States, protesters in San Pedro drowned an effigy of him.17

However, Yugoslavia began opening more diplomatic dialogue to western nations after the Tito–Stalin split, which assured that Yugoslavia was not to become a member of the Warsaw Pact. On January 1, 1967, Yugoslavia was the first communist country to open its borders to all foreign visitors and abolish visa requirements.18 Regular commercial air travel between the United States and Yugoslavia was introduced with Pan Am and JAT Yugoslav Airlines.1920 Due to this, trade opportunities reopened between the United States and Yugoslavia, and American businesses began exporting to Yugoslavia. Likewise, by the 1980s Yugoslavia was even exporting many of its manufactured automobiles from Zastava Automobili's assembly line in Kragujevac to the United States. U.S. president Jimmy Carter discussed issues regarding Palestine and Egypt with Tito and referred to him as a "great world leader".21 Subsequently, the Reagan administration began targeting the Yugoslav economy in a Secret Sensitive 1984 National Security Decision Directive NSDD 133. "U.S. Policy towards Yugoslavia." A censored version declassified in 1990 elaborated on NSDD 54 on Eastern Europe, issued in 1982. The latter advocated "expanded efforts to promote a 'quiet revolution' to overthrow Communist governments and parties," while reintegrating the countries of Eastern Europe into a market-oriented economy.22

Serbian radicals in the United States during the existence of Yugoslavia

Nikola Kavaja hijacked American Airlines Flight 293 on June 20, 1979 with the intention to crash it into the Communist League headquarters in Belgrade.

During much of the existence of the SFRJ, the United States was a haven for many Serbian radicals which either lived outside of Yugoslavia for political asylum or had anti-communist agendas. On 20 June 1979, a Serbian nationalist hijacked American Airlines Flight 293 from New York City with the intention to crash a Boeing 707 into SKJ party headquarters in Belgrade.23 The aircraft, however, landed in Shannon, Ireland, where the perpetrators were arrested.24

A group of six Serbian nationalists, among them Boško Radonjić, placed a home-made bomb in the home of the Yugoslav consulate in Chicago in 1975.25 Radonjić later became the leader of the Westies gang in New York City, where he participated in organized crime and racketeering.26 He eventually became one of the most feared gangsters in the New York City underworld, and developed extensive friendships with John Gotti and the Gambino family. After Sammy Gravano turned John Gotti in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in December 1990, Radonjić was highly suspected to have attempted to fix the trial on John Gotti's behalf.27 As a result of this, Radonjić was arrested on December 1999 during a lockdown at Miami International Airport when he was tracked down by the FBI.28 He was arrested in the United States again in January 2000 for further investigation of the 1992 Gotti trial.29 Upon release in 2001, he left the United States and moved back to Serbia where he lived until his death in 2011.30 He was also an admirer and long-time friend of Radovan Karadžić until the latter went into hiding in 1996.31

In the 1980s, Vojislav Šešelj taught political science at the University of Michigan32 after being expelled by the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in 1981.33 In June 1989, he traveled to the United States again to meet with Momčilo Đujić in San Marcos, California, where Đujić named him Chetnik Vojvoda (duke in Serbian).343536 He went on to form the Serbian Radical Party in 199137 and was accused by the ICTY tribunal of leading the Beli Orlovi militants in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in war-state Republic of Serbian Krajina.38 Radovan Karadžić pursued post-graduate medical studies at Columbia University from 1974 to 1975,39 but did so without any specific political agenda at the time being; he later became the war-time president of the Republika Srpska during the Bosnian War and subsequently went into hiding in Serbia until his capture in 2008 for ICTY charges of war crimes and genocide.40

Deteriorating relations and war with FR Yugoslavia (1992-2000)

Seated from left to right: Slobodan Milošević, Alija Izetbegović, Franjo Tuđman signing the Dayton Peace Accords at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on November 21, 1995.

When the breakup of Yugoslavia began in 1992, the territories consisting of Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo composed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the midst of the Yugoslav Wars, the United States as well as an overwhelming majority of states from the United Nations severed economic ties and imposed sanctions on FR Yugoslavia on May 30, 1992.4142 On November 21, 1995, Serbian president Slobodan Milošević travelled to the United States to sign the Dayton Peace Accords with Croatian president Franjo Tuđman and Bosnian president Alija Izetbegović near Dayton, Ohio. Months later, sanctions against Yugoslavia were finally lifted in October 1996.43

However, the United States reinstated sanctions against Yugoslavia in March 1998 when the Kosovo War started.44 Shortly after the controversies at Račak and Rambouillet, American diplomat Richard Holbrooke traveled to Belgrade in March 1999 to deliver the final ultimatum requesting entry of UN forces into Kosovo.45 Milošević rejected the ultimatum, so the United States completely severed ties with Yugoslavia on March 23, 1999. Bill Clinton became the first president to declare war while bypassing a Congressional majority.46 The establishment of the bombing campaign was contested by one of the tightest votings (213-213) in the entire history of the House of Representatives.47 The United States declared war on Yugoslavia on March 24, 1999 to take part in Operation Allied Force led by U.S. general Wesley Clark.48 Out of all the territories in Yugoslavia at the time, Serbia was bombed the most due to its concentration of military targets.4950 As a result of Slobodan Milošević granting entry to KFOR in Kosovo, the war against Yugoslavia ceased on June 10, 1999.51 After the Bulldozer Revolution on October 5, 2000, the United States reestablished a diplomatic presence in Belgrade.52

Post-war relations

Sanctions against FR Yugoslavia were lifted in January 2001.53 The United States under the Bush administration denied giving any aid to Yugoslavia even several months after UN sanctions were lifted54 before Vojislav Koštunica promised to cooperate with demands from The Hague regarding the Slobodan Milošević trial.55 In September 2002, it was announced that the Military Court in Belgrade was to press charges against Momčilo Perišić, who was the vice president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia at the time, for espionage in the favour of the Central Intelligence Agency.56 The trial never took place, although upon his release from The Hague on February 28, 2013, it was announced by Perišić's lawyer Novak Lukić that his client was "ready to be judged" on the same 2002 accusations of espionage.57

The evacuated embassy of the United States in Belgrade after the 2008 Serbia protests.

Later, in May 2006, Montenegro declared independence from the Serbo-Montenegrin state union; the United States immediately respected the results and urged the new government in Podgorica to keep close ties with Serbia.58 The United States recognized Serbia as the official successor state of the Serbia and Montenegro and the preceding Yugoslav state.59 Less than two years later, the declaring of independence by Kosovo on February 17, 2008 spurred off widespread unrest in Serbia, during which the embassy of the United States was evacuated and then torched by a mob.6061 One man of Serbian nationality was killed inside of the embassy during the unrest.62 Serbia temporarily withdrew its ambassador from Washington, D.C., but the U.S. embassy in Belgrade was closed only for several days. Ambassador Cameron Munter said that no degrading of relations were expected regardless of the unrest.63

On May 20, 2009 Vladimir Petrović presented his credentials to Barack Obama. On September 22, 2009, Mary Warlick became ambassador of the United States to Serbia.64 On April 20, 2012, Mary Warlick issued a statement saying that the United States does not endorse any candidate or political party a day after former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani traveled to Belgrade to attend a news conference with Belgrade mayor candidate Aleksandar Vučić.6566 Belgrade mayor Dragan Đilas slammed the conference which Giuliani attended, telling press that "Giuliani should not speak about Belgrade's future as a man who supported the bombing of Serbia."67 After the 2012 presidential elections in Serbia, a large number of local news outlets and even some intellectuals interpreted Philip T. Reeker's visit to Belgrade in July 2012 as an attempt to create a parliamentary coalition between the Demokratska Stranka and the Serbian Progressive Party as opposed to the Progressive-SPS bloc which had been composed by the election results.686970

Immigration, brain drain, and professionals from Serbia

There is a sizable Serbian American diaspora in the United States; in 2007 a total of 172,834 people of Serbian nationality or descent were recorded to be inhabiting the U.S.71 The first documented wave of Serbian immigrants to the United States was recorded in the 1970s when many Serbian factory workers emigrated to Detroit to manufacture automobiles for Ford.72 In 2011, Serbia was ranked second in the world (after Guinea Bissau) in human capital flight according to USAID.73 Brain drain to the United States and Canada has been cited as a chronic phenomenon in Serbia,74 especially from 1990 to 2000 during the decade of UN sanctions and war.75

Trade and investment

The Fiat 500L is manufactured in Serbia and sold in the United States as well as around the world.

Serbia's strongest exports to the United States include Fiat automobiles manufactured in Kragujevac. Fiat purchased Zastava Automobili in 2008 and subsequently managed the factory in Kragujevac so that it would produce new Fiat automobiles as opposed to Zastava models (the last Zastavas were produced in 2008); in May 2013 alone, 3,000 Fiat 500L units were shipped from Serbia to Baltimore for sale in the United States. The Fiat 500L is the first automobile to have been exported from Serbia to the United States since the Zastava Koral before 1992, and is proving to be a popular model with a large amount of advertising in the United States.76

Serbia is the largest exporter of raspberries in the world (as of 2009), and much of the raspberries consumed in the United States are grown in Šumadija.77

See also


  1. ^ UNDP Serbia Country programme framework.
  2. ^ U.S. Global Leadership Project Report - 2012 Gallup
  3. ^ "US Ambassador to Serbia. US GOVERNMENT OFFICE". Retrieved 2011-02-03. 
  4. ^ Srpska Mreza - To Bomb Belgrade on Easter - By Charles Simic
  5. ^ Tomasevich (1975)
  6. ^ The Chetniks - Jovo Tomasevic (1985) - Page 376
  7. ^ Los Angeles Times - ARCHIVES - February 28, 1987 - George Musulin; Led Airlift That Rescued Fliers in World War II dies
  8. ^ Voices in War Time - The Tragedy of Draza Mihailovic
  9. ^ General Mihailovic - Mihailovic Legion of Merit - July 2006
  10. ^ ISN ETH Zurich - May 10, 2005 - US veterans award Legion of Merit to Chetnik
  11. ^ U.S. Defends Mihailovic in Note to Yugoslavs, The Milwaukee Sentinel - Apr 3, 1946.
  12. ^ Walter R. Roberts, Tito, Mihailović and the Allies 1941-1945, Rutgers University Press, page 307
  13. ^ Martin, David. Patriot or Traitor: The Case of General Mihailović: Proceedings and Report of the Commission of Inquiry of the Committee for a Fair Trial for Draja Mihailović. Hoover Archival Documentaries. Hoover Institution Publication, volume 191. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, 1978.
  14. ^ Cold War Shootdowns - Emmanuel Gustin
  15. ^ "Air victories of Yugoslav Air Force". Retrieved 10 March 2010. 
  16. ^ Google Archives - Sunday Herald - December 15, 1957 - Supporter claims Tom Dodd was right on Major Issues
  17. ^ "Courteous, Correct & Cold". Time. 25 October 1963. Retrieved 27 April 2010. 
  18. ^ "Beyond Dictatorship". Time Magazine. 20 January 1967. Retrieved 27 April 2010. 
  19. ^ - Petar Lazarevski - USA Maine, June 1977
  20. ^ Roger Sevy - Drexel - "Yugoslavia 1967"
  21. ^ Lakeland Ledger - March 8, 1978 - Carter and Tito Agree on Issues
  22. ^ Sean Gervasi, 'Germany, the US, and the Yugorlav Crisis,' Covert Action, n. 43, Winter 1992–93, p 42
  23. ^ New York Times - Nikola Kajava, Anti-Tito Hijacker of Jet, Dies at 75 - November 12, 2008
  24. ^ Hockenos, Paul (2003). Homeland Calling: Exile Patriotism and the Balkan Wars. Cornell University Press. pp. 116–117. ISBN 9780801441585. 
  25. ^ New York Times - April 9, 2011 - Bosko Radonjic, Gambino family ally, dies at 67
  26. ^ New York Times - Archives - Jury-Fixing Case Dropped After Arrest of Gravano
  27. ^ Blic - April 2, 2008 - Lovac na Tita koji je pomirio irsku i italijansku mafiju (Serbian)
  28. ^ Oscala Star-Banner: May 12, 2000
  29. ^ New York Times - ARCHIVES - January 14, 2000 - Fugitive held on '92 count of fixing Gotti Jury
  30. ^ Mondo RS - April 1, 2011 - Umro Bosko Radonjic (Serbian)
  31. ^ Esquire - Daniel Voll - Radovan Karadzic: Misunderstood Mass-Murderer - August 1, 2008
  32. ^ BBC News - Europe - Profile: Vojislav Seselj - November 7, 2007
  33. ^ Yves Tomic. The Ideology of a Greater Serbia in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries - The political ideas of Vojislav ŠEŠELJ. p. 68. 
  34. ^ New York Times - ARCHIVES - Momcilo Djujic Serbian Priest and Warrior Dies at 92
  35. ^ B92 - News - Comments - Witness: Šešelj had Chetnik ideology
  36. ^
  37. ^ Ramet, Sabrina P. (2006). The three Yugoslavias: state-building and legitimation, 1918–2005. Indiana University. pp. 358–359. ISBN 9780253346568. 
  38. ^ ICTY, Vojislav Seselj indictment, 15 January 2003
  39. ^ "Karadzic: Psychiatrist-turned 'Butcher of Bosnia'". CNN. 22 July 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2008.  See also: "Info on graduate studies at Columbia U.". Retrieved 26 July 2008. 
  41. ^ GMU Programs - Economic Sanctions as a Foreign Policy Tool: The Case of Yugoslavia
  42. ^ American University- SERBSANC - Serbia Sanctions Case
  43. ^ New York Times - Archives - UN formally ends sanctions on Yugoslavia - October 2, 1996
  44. ^ New York Times - Archives - US and allies set sanctions on Yugoslavia - March 10, 1998
  45. ^ Perlez, Jane (1999-03-22). "Conflict in the Balkans: The Overview; Milosevic to Get One 'Last Chance' to Avoid Bombing". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-15. 
  46. ^ Progress - The Illegal War against Yugoslavia
  47. ^ New York Times (April 29, 1999) "House G.O.P. Adds Billions for Military In Balkans Package"
  48. ^ "Press Statement by Dr. Javier Solana, Secretary General of NATO" (Press release). NATO. March 23, 1999. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  49. ^ NATO's role in relation to the conflict in Kosovo, NATO website, July 15, 1999.
  50. ^ Nato warns Milosevic off Montenegro. BBC News. April 2, 1999. Retrieved December 31, 2009. 
  51. ^ A historical overview of Operation Allied Force.
  52. ^ KUNA Kuwait News Agency - Archives - October 13, 2000 - U.S. agrees to reopen embassy in Belgrade
  53. ^ The Lancet - Richard Garfield - August 18, 2001 - Economic Sanctions on Yugoslavia
  54. ^ Articles (Archives) - Los Angeles Times - March 25, 2001 - Bush Backtracks on holding Kostunica's feet to the fire
  55. ^ Sun Sentinel - News - May 10, 2001 - Bush Urges Leader's Trial
  56. ^ B92 (Serbian): Perišić optužen za špijunažu September 30, 2002
  57. ^ S Media (Serbian): NEMA OPUŠTANJA: Momčilo Perišić spreman za suđenje za špijunažu u korist SAD March 4, 2013
  58. ^ "US Statement on the Montenegrin Referendum on State Status". Retrieved 2011-01-16. 
  59. ^ US Department of State - Serbia: Background Note
  60. ^ "Belgrade's US Embassy set on fire". Associated Press. 2008-02-21. 
  61. ^ Washington Post - February 21, 2008 - U.S. Embassy in Belgrade overrun
  62. ^ CBC World News - February 21, 2008 - Body found in burned US embassy
  63. ^ VOA News - February 22, 2008 - US Furious over Belgrade Embassy Attack
  64. ^ Mary Warlick appointment
  65. ^ SRB - Enovine - Djulijani nije Amerikanac! (serbian) - April 20, 2012
  66. ^ Online WSJ - April 20, 2012 - Giuliani Wades Into World of Messy Balkan Politics
  67. ^ B92- eng - Belgrade mayor accuses Giuliani of "supporting bombing" - April 20, 2012
  68. ^ Mondo (Serbian): Riker pravi vladu DS-SNS? Dačić ne da mandat 3 July 2012
  69. ^ Blic (Serbian): Simić: Za SAD je prihvatljivija vlada SNS i DS 4 July 2012
  70. ^ Vesti Online (Serbian): Klintonova lobira za koaliciju DS-SNS 3 July 2012
  71. ^ "Selected Population Profile: Serbian". US Census Bureau. 2007. Retrieved 2009. 
  72. ^ Airlines of The Jet Age. By R.E.G. Davies. Pp 222
  73. ^ SETimes - December 8, 2011 - Majority of Serbian students want to emigrate
  74. ^ Connection - Ebscohost - 2.11 AN EXCESSIVE "BRAIN DRAIN" FROM SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO-- HOW TO SMOOTH IT?[114] March 2004 - Kumburovic, Andrijana
  75. ^ Balkaninsight - April 10, 2011 - Goran Andric - Lack of opportunity in Serbia causes brain drain
  76. ^ [1] Blic: Pogledajte: Kao nekad "jugo", Srbija izvozi 3.000 "fijata 500L" u Ameriku - May 11, 2013 (Serbian)
  77. ^ [2] Raspberries: Serbia's Red Gold - November 2010

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State (Background Notes).[3]

External links

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