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Balkan Leaders Tell VOA U.S. Involvement Needed in the Region

Say reforms need US engagement

Washington, D.C., September 25, 2009 – Leaders from Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia said, in separate interviews with the Voice of America (VOA), that strong U.S. involvement in the Balkans is vital for their countries' futures.

"(The) world expects President Obama to conduct miracles, and we have high expectations too," said Bosnia President Zeljko Komsic. "Successful reforms and processes in Bosnia and the other Balkan countries could not happen without strong U.S. engagement."

Komsic, who was interviewed with the other leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York this week, added: "There has never been less unity among Bosnian leaders and politicians regarding the future of the country, its borders, institutions…."

Croatian President Stjepan Mesic told VOA that President Obama greeted him warmly at a reception. "When he [Obama] introduced me to others, and especially his wife, he said, 'This is our best friend in NATO.'" The statement was circulated widely by media in Croatia.

Also interviewed were Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic of Montenegro, President Fatmir Sejdiu of Kosovo, President Boris Tadic of Serbia and President Gjorge Ivanov of Macedonia.

VOA television programs are broadcast to the Balkans in Albanian, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Greek and Macedonian. In addition, broadcasts in Albanian, Croatian and Greek are carried by radio. All services are expanding their robust online products, which include websites, blogs and video-sharing on YouTube. VOA is a leading international broadcaster in the region.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

For more information, please call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail