Shaheen, Welch Travel to Western Balkans to Engage with Partners Amid Continued Russian Interference and Convey Support for Their Euro-Atlantic Aspirations
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation and a senior member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, led a congressional delegation with U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-VT) last week to North Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina to convey continued U.S. support for its allies amid Russian aggression against Ukraine and to discuss the implications for European security in the region. The Senators also reinforced U.S. support for the Western Balkan nations on their respective democratic trajectories and encouraged their path towards European integration.
“Our delegation came at a time when there are escalating security concerns in the Western Balkans, and it was important to use this as an opportunity to reassure our partners and NATO Allies that the United States is actively engaged and supportive of their efforts towards full Euro-Atlantic integration,” said Shaheen. “We had substantive conversations with officials and local leaders throughout the visit, including robust discussions about the transatlantic alliance, which has been fundamental to our global united response against Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine.”
“It was an honor to join Senator Jeanne Shaheen—a leader on U.S.-European foreign relations in the U.S. Senate and my neighbor from New Hampshire—on a congressional delegation to the Western Balkans. This delegation came at a critical moment for global security and the stability of this important region. As we seek a united front against Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, strengthening our transatlantic alliances has never been more important. I was thankful for the opportunity to discuss the power of democracy and express America’s unwavering commitment to a more interconnected, secure, and prosperous world,” said Welch.
Throughout their visit, the Senators met with high level government officials, members of the respective countries’ administrations and civil society leaders. While in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Senators spoke at the Sarajevo Security Conference. Photos from the trip can be found here.
Last year, Senator Shaheen led bipartisan legislation in the U.S. Senate to strengthen U.S.-Balkan ties with Senator Wicker (R-MS). In the fall of 2022, Shaheen led a bipartisan letter with Senators Tillis (R-NC), Murphy (D-CT) and Wicker to the Biden administration on the importance of the EUFOR mandate and urged the development of a comprehensive strategy towards Bosnia and Herzegovina. Shaheen traveled to the Western Balkans to serve as an election monitor for the Bosnia and Herzegovina elections, which followed a separate trip to the region with both Senators Murphy and Tillis. Shaheen shared her experience as an election monitor on ‘Balkans Debrief’ with Ilva Tare. In 2015, Senators Shaheen and Wicker traveled to Srebrenica to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the genocide. Shaheen has condemned democratic backsliding in Bosnia and Herzegovina and has worked to Bolster their Euro-Atlantic Aspirations.