WASHINGTON -- U.S. State Department Office for South Central European Affairs Director Thomas Yazdgerdi says his country is "fully engaged in the Balkans."
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Yazdgerdi, who was recently appointed to the job, told Voice of America that Washington supports the future of the entire region "in the framework of the Euro-Atlantic community."
The United States considers itself to be a partner, he said Yazdgerdi, in this respect, "for example, by helping to maintain the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, giving support to Montenegro do things that are needed in order to join NATO, encouraging Greece and Macedonia to resolve their name dispute, assisting Bosnia to become more functional in comparison to everything else that seems a little easier."
As for "the growing Russian influence in the region," and possible plans of Washington to oppose it, Yazdgerdi said it was "not a question of opposing Russia's influence, but supporting citizens of the region to achieve their aspirations in terms of integrations."
Yazdgerdi said his country was "not against" others maintaining relations with Russia, and added that "some, like Serbia, have historical and cultural ties with Russia."
"But - if you want to join the European club, which I think all countries in the region want, then you must make appropriate conclusions and align your foreign policy with that advocated by the European Union," concluded Yazdgerdi.