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(Washington, D.C.)-U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, issued the following statement recognizing that Serbia and Kosovo will open their first high-level talks since Kosovo declared independence in 2008:

“I welcome today’s high-level talks in Brussels between the Governments of Serbia and Kosovo and applaud the European Union for its efforts to broker the discussions. 

“Today’s historic talks are just the beginning of an important dialogue, which can serve as a forum to craft tangible shared benefits for Serbia and Kosovo.  Such discussions will be necessary to eventually pave the way for a creative, pragmatic, and sustainable solution that best protects and improves the lives of all ethnicities throughout the region.  This is a critical opportunity for the people of Kosovo and Serbia to begin to turn the page on a troubled and divisive past and start a new chapter in their shared history.

“Over sixty years ago, the United States and our European allies made the historic commitment to bring about a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.  Until all of the people of Southeast Europe are integrated into our trans-Atlantic community, our job is not yet complete and our dream will remain unfinished.  Though we still have a long journey before us, I look forward to working closely with the governments in Kosovo and Serbia as we move down the path of dialogue, trust, and stability.”   

Senator Shaheen serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as Chair of the Subcommittee for European Affairs, responsible for the Western Balkans.  She chaired a hearing on the opportunity and challenges in the Western Balkans in April 2010, and she traveled to Belgrade, Serbia and Pristina, Kosovo in February 2010.