US ambassador triggers Serbs with "side of history" comment

The US ambassador in Belgrade "really hit a nerve" with a large number of citizens of Serbia, as seen in the comments left on websites and social networks.

Source: Tanjug
(Tanjug, file)
(Tanjug, file)

The daily Politika writes this on Friday, adding that, as in most other cases when US Ambassador Kyle Scott crossed the imaginary line of diplomatic propriety toward Serbia, or when his words hurt the feelings of a large number of citizens here, reactions followed this time as well - both from officials and from the public.

"Serbia has always been on the right side of history. The Serb people never made the wrong choice," Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin said - he was the first to react to Scott's tweet claiming that Serbia was "on the wrong side of history on the issue of Venezuela."

Foreign Minister and First Deputy PM Ivica Dacic then said the ambassador's statement was inappropriate, and "a classic example of how a big power talks to others."

"This is not the appropriate way to talk to Serbia. Neither the US, nor Britain, nor Germany, nor Russia, nor China will be determining our foreign policy," Dacic said, among other things.

According to Politika, "his excellency has really hit a nerve with a large number of citizens of Serbia, as seen in the comments left on websites and social networks."

"In this case, the US ambassador made two parallel mistakes. One was to express himself in that way in the host country, treating it as a country that is not capable of finding the right place in history. This is not the job of a diplomat or an ambassador," said former Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic.

He added that another question that has been raised why Scott thinks, on behalf of his country, that meddling in the internal affairs of a UN member state (Venezuela), removing its legally elected president, and replacing him with a new one that has not yet been elected, is a practice that history should ascribe value to, and confirm.

"On who's side is history? Certainly not on the side of those who do not respect the UN Charter on sovereignty of states, and non-interference. After all, the OSCE expressly prohibits any kind of interference in the internal affairs of other states," Jovanovic pointed out.

He added that in the concrete case, it was in poor taste for a great power to be placing the host country on the wrong side of history. According to Jovanovic, this may be because US diplomatic representatives sometimes feel intoxicated by the power of their country, and are not choosing their words - "or, this has been deliberately calculated to exert additional pressure on Serbia because of Kosovo."

Politika recalls in its article that the reactions this time are similar to those earlier this month, when Scott told one domestic broadcaster that "the maps of Serbia that can be bought in America are different than those in Serbia" - and that "there must be a line to know where Serbia is, and where Kosovo is."

But at the top of the list of Ambassador Scott's statements that have caused loathing among the public and among Serbian officials, and which depart from standard diplomatic practice, is certainly the one from last October, which Prime Minister Ana Brnabic referred to as scandalous.

Namely, in the middle of a news conference held at the Serbian government building together with Minister Zorana Mihajlovic, Scott lectured reporters not to refer to Kosovo's government as so-called - because, he said, Kosovo is "independent and sovereign."


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