Serbia

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Overview

Following a decade of animosity stemming from Serbia’s military actions during the Bosnia war and its subsequent attacks against Kosovo, relations between Serbia and the United States are beginning to improve., In the early 1990s, as the former Yugoslavia began to break apart, Serbian nationalists led by Slobodan Milošević attempted to unite Serbs in breakaway regions such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Paramilitary units backed by the Serbian government attacked Bosniaks and Croats, committing numerous human rights abuses, including the wholesale slaughter of entire villages. The United States and its NATO allies were reluctant at first to become involved in the Bosnian war, but eventually by 1994-95, they carried out air strikes to neutralize the power of the Serbian military. Only a few years later, Serbia again gained international scorn as it attempted to violently suppress an independence movement in the province of Kosovo. Once again, the US and European countries intervened militarily to blunt Serbian attacks.

The power of Serbian nationalists began to wane by 2000 and Milošević was forced from power following contested elections. He was subsequently arrested and sent to The Hague to be tried for war crimes, but died of a heart attack before the trial ended. With a new government in power in Belgrade, relations with Washington began to improve. Trade sanctions were lifted, and the US even began to provide limited military training to a newly revamped Serbian army. But difficulties have continued to arise for the US-Serbian relationship. The Bush administration’s recognition of Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008 provoked violent protests against the US Embassy in Belgrade. In addition, the violent assault of an American college student in upstate New York by a visiting Serbian student, who subsequently fled the country to avoid prosecution, has created strains between officials in Washington and Belgrade.

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Basic Information

 

Lay of the Land: Located in southeastern Europe, Serbia is bordered by Hungary to the north, Romania and Bulgaria to the east, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro to the south, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia to the west.
 
Population: 10.2 million
 
Religions: Serbian Orthodox 85%, Catholic 5.5%, Muslim 3.2%, Protestant 1.1%, other 2.6%, non-religious 2.6%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Serb 82.9%, Hungarian 3.9%, Bosniak 1.8%, Roma 1.4%, Yugoslav 1.1%, Montenegrin 0.9%, other 8%.
 
Languages: Serbian (official) 88.3%, Hungarian 3.8%, Bosniak 1.8%, Roma 1.1%, other 4.1%, unknown 0.9%. Hungarian, Slovak, Ukrainian, and Croatian are all official in Vojvodina.
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History

The first Serbian kingdom was created in 1170 by Stefan Nemanja, whose son was canonized as St. Sava and became the patron saint of the Serbian Orthodox Church which was founded in 1219. Serbia’s territories expanded under the rule of King Milutin, who seized territory in nearby Macedonia from the Byzantines. The territories reached their peak under Milutin’s son, Stefan Dušan (1331-1355).

Serbian power waned after Stefan’s death in 1355, and at the Battle of Kosovo on June 28, 1389, the Serbs were defeated by the Turks. Following the Battle of Smederevo in 1459, the Ottoman Empire exerted complete control over all Serb lands.
 
Serbs lived under the rule of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 370 years, though the Serbian Orthodox Church, despite several disruptions, transmitted Serbian heritage and helped preserve Serbian identity during this period. Movements for Serbian independence began with uprisings led by Karađorđe Petrović  (1804-1813) and Miloš Obrenović  (1815-1817), founders of two rival dynasties that ruled Serbia until World War I. Serbia became an internationally recognized principality under Turkish and Russian protection after the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829.

After waging war against Turkey in support of Bosnian rebels in 1876, Serbia formally gained independence in 1878 at the Congress of Berlin, largely thanks to Russian support. Following Austria-Hungary’s annexation of Bosnia, Serbia led a successful coalition of Montenegrin, Bulgarian, and Greek troops (the Balkan League) that in 1913 seized remaining Ottoman-controlled territory in Europe and established Serbia as a regional military leader.

The assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb (Gavrilo Princip) set off a series of diplomatic and military actions among the great powers that culminated in World War I. Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces occupied Serbia soon after World War I began. After the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the war’s end in 1918, Vojvodina and Montenegro united with Serbia, and former south Slav subjects of the Habsburgs sought the protection of the Serbian crown within the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.

Serbia was the dominant partner in this state, which in 1929 adopted the name Yugoslavia.
The kingdom soon encountered resistance when Croatians began to resent control from Belgrade. This pressure prompted King Alexander I to split the traditional regions into nine administrative provinces. During World War II, the Axis powers occupied Yugoslavia. Royal army soldiers, calling themselves Chetniks, formed a Serbian resistance movement, but the communist Partisans, with Soviet and Anglo-American help, succeeded in defeating the Chetniks and in forcing German forces from Yugoslavia by 1944. In an effort to avoid Serbian domination during the postwar years, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro were given separate and equal republican status within the new socialist federation of Yugoslavia. Kosovo and Vojvodina were made autonomous provinces within Yugoslavia.

Despite the appearance of a federal system of government in Yugoslavia, Serbian communists ruled Yugoslavia’s political life for the next four decades under Josip Broz Tito. After Tito made several significant foreign policy decisions without consulting Moscow, Yugoslavia was expelled from the Soviet bloc in 1948, signifying a split with Moscow that left Tito independent to accept aid from the Marshall Plan and become a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Communist rule transformed Serbia from an agrarian society into an industrial society. But by the 1980s Yugoslavia’s economy started to fail. With the death of Tito in 1980, separatist and nationalist tensions emerged in Yugoslavia.

In the late 1980s, Slobodan Milošević propelled himself to power in Belgrade by exploiting Serbian nationalism, especially over Kosovo. In 1989, he arranged the elimination of Kosovo’s autonomy in favor of direct rule from Belgrade. Belgrade ordered the firing of large numbers of Albanian state employees, whose jobs were then taken by Serbs. As a result of this oppression, Kosovo Albanian leaders led a peaceful resistance movement in the early 1990s and established a parallel government funded mainly by Albanians living throughout the world.  

Between 1991 and 1992, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia all seceded from Yugoslavia, leaving the country on the brink of civil war. On April 27, 1992, Serbia and Montenegro joined in passing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). Meanwhile, Serbs in Bosnia, led by strongman Radovan Karadžić, declared four self-proclaimed “Serb Autonomous Regions” within Bosnia. For Bosnian Serbs, their intentions were to separate from Bosnia and join with Serbia. A few months later, the Bosnian Serb army, led by Ratko Mladić, went on the offensive inside Bosnia. Backed by Serbia, the Bosnian Serb forces laid siege to Sarajevo, which lasted almost three years. Food became scarce, and between starvation and military assaults, more than 12,000 residents were killed.

While Sarajevo was under siege, Karadžić’s paramilitary units also carried out a systematic policy of “ethnic cleansing” to establish a “pure” Serb republic within Bosnia. Croats (who were accused other their own atrocities and attacks, including the siege of Mostar) and Bosniaks were subjected to forced relocations, assaults, rapes and executions. Entire villages were destroyed, such as Srebrenica, where 8,000 Bosniaks lost their lives. For three years, the slaughter was allowed to continue while Western European powers and the United States stood by, unwilling to get involved in the conflict.

It wasn’t until 1995 that military forces under the command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launched air strikes against the Bosnian Serb army to prevent more attacks on United Nations safe-havens for refugees. Later that year in November, the warring parties signed the Dayton Peace Accords, bringing an end to the bloody conflict. In December 1995, NATO deployed a 60,000-troop Implementation Force to enforce the peace accords. IFOR transitioned into a smaller stabilization force in 1996. By 2004, the European Union assumed primary responsibility for military stabilization operations. Approximately 2,200 EU troops remain deployed in Bosnia

Karadžić and Mladić were indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague in July 1995 on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Karadžić alluded capture until July 2008 when he was arrested in Serbia. Mladić remains at large.

Two years later, another war threatened to erupt in Kosovo, when the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began an armed resistance in 1997. The KLA’s main goal was to secure the independence of Kosovo.

In late 1998, Milošević unleashed a brutal police and military campaign against the separatist KLA, which included atrocities against civilian noncombatants. For the duration of Milošević's campaign, large numbers of ethnic Albanians were either displaced from their homes in Kosovo or killed by Serbian troops or police. These acts, and Serbia’s refusal to sign the Rambouillet Accords, provoked 79 days of bombing by NATO forces from March to June 1999 and led the UN Security Council to authorize an international civil and military presence in Kosovo, placing these international presences under UN auspices, calling for a process to determine Kosovo’s status, and calling for UN interim administration of Kosovo. Following Milošević’s capitulation, international forces, including the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the NATO-led security force KFOR, moved into Kosovo.

Milošević resigned from office amid demonstrations that followed the disputed presidential election of September 2000. He was arrested by Yugoslav federal authorities in March 2001 on suspicion of corruption, abuse of power, and embezzlement. But instead of being tried by Serbian courts, the government extradited him to The Hague to stand trial for charges of war crimes. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia charged Milošević with crimes against humanity, violating the laws or customs of war, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and genocide for his role during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Milošević conducted his own defense, but the trial ended without a verdict because he died during the proceedings of a heart attack.

In March 2002, the heads of the federal and republican governments signed the Belgrade Agreement, setting forth the parameters for a redefinition of Montenegro’s relationship with Serbia within a joint state. On February 4, 2003, the FRY parliament ratified the Constitutional Charter, establishing a new state union and changing the name of the country from Yugoslavia to Serbia and Montenegro.

On May 21, 2006, the Republic of Montenegro held a successful referendum on independence and declared independence on June 3. Thereafter, the parliament of Serbia stated that the Republic of Serbia was the continuity of the state union, changing the name of the country from Serbia and Montenegro to the Republic of Serbia, with Serbia retaining Serbia and Montenegro’s membership in all international organizations and bodies.

On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared its independence following a 120-day last-ditch effort by the European Union, Russia and the United States to facilitate an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo on the latter’s status. The United States officially recognized Kosovo’s independence the following day. More than 50 nations recognized Kosovo as of late 2008. Serbia has rejected Kosovo independence. Government officials declared their intent to pursue all peaceful, political, and diplomatic means to retain Kosovo and sought a UN resolution to request that the International Court of Justice review the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence. After a vigorous lobbying campaign, on October 9, 2008, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of Serbia’s proposal.

Official Website of the Serbian Government
History of Serbia (Wikipedia)
Serbia and Montenegro (Virtual Jewish History Tour)
National Tourism Organization of Serbia

 
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History of U.S. Relations with Serbia

 

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Serbia were first established in 1879, with the opening of the Consulate-General in New York. The US supported the creation of the first South Slav common state in 1918.
 
The first documented Serbians arrived in the United States in the early 19th century, although it wasn't until the turn of the 20th century that Serbians began arriving en masse. Early immigrants mostly hailed from border zones, where Serbians had been historically encouraged by the Austro-Hungarian Empire to settle and act as a buffer against the frequent Turkish incursions. 
 
When the Austrian emperor revoked Serbian political autonomy and curbed religious freedom in 1869, many Serbians who felt betrayed began to immigrate to the US. These were mainly uneducated, single young men who intended to work temporarily in the heavy industries before returning home with their accumulated savings. Immigration slowed significantly with the implementation of a literacy test in 1917, and nearly ground to a halt when the restrictive, quota-based Immigration Act of 1924 was passed. 
 
The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 and the Refugee Relief Act of 1953 admitted a large number of Serbians: those attached to the Allied military, prisoners of war, inmates at Nazi internment camps, and supporters of the anti-communist forces in Yugoslavia. Unlike their predecessors, these immigrants were primarily urbane, politically motivated members of the middle and upper classes, and were focused on disrupting the unity and sovereignty of the Yugoslavian state. The last wave has arrived in the wake of the Yugoslavia’s collapse in 1991, and has mostly immigrated for economic rather than political reasons. 
In response to Serbia’s support for Bosnian Serb attacks in the Balkans war, the US imposed economic and military sanctions against Serbia in 1992.
 
After severing diplomatic relations in March 1999 following Serbia’s attacks against Kosovo, the US Embassy in Belgrade formally reopened in May 2001. US officials hailed the success of Serbian democrats in defeating the Milošević regime in elections in 2000 and early 2001.
 
Serbia - US Bilateral Relations (Serbian Embassy, Washington DC)
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Current U.S. Relations with Serbia

 

Noted Serbian-Americans
Politics
Melissa Bean (née Luburić): Democratic member of the House of Representatives representing Illinois’s 8th congressional district.
Helen Delich Bentley: former Republican member of the House of Representatives from Maryland
Milorad “Rod” Blagojevich: former governor of Illinois from 2003-2009. He was a Democratic member of the House of Representatives before becoming governor. In December 2008, he was arrested on federal corruption charges that involved conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. In January 2009, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to impeach Balgojevich by a 114-1 vote for corruption and misconduct in office.
George Voinovich: the senior senator from Ohio. He previously served as the 65th governor of Ohio and the 54th mayor of Cleveland
Rose Ann Vuich: first female member of the California State Senate. She served from 1977 until 1993.
 
Science
Nikola Tesla: Ethnic Serb born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire on land that is today Croatia, Tesla was a physicist who is widely respected as one of the greatest electrical engineers who worked in the United States. He pioneered modern electrical engineering and worked in electromagnetism and electromechanical engineering. He contributed to the establishment of robotics, remote control, radar and, computer science. He expanded the fields of ballistics, nuclear physics and theoretical physics. The Supreme Court of the United States credits him as being the inventor of the radio, and the International System of Units measure called the “tesla” is named in his honor as is the “Tesla effect” of wireless energy transfer.
 
Arts/Entertainment/Media
Sascha Alexander: Born Suzana S. Drobnjaković, she is known for her roles as NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) Special Agent Caitlin “Kate” Todd and in the movies Mission: Impossible III and He’s Just Not That Into You
Brad Dexter: Born Boris Michel Soso, he is known his role in The Magnificent Seven
Karl Malden: Born Mladen George Sekulovich, he acted in A Streetcar Named Desire, Pollyanna and many other films. His mother was Czech and his father was Serbian.
Natalia Nogulich; actress best known for her appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Catherine Oxenberg; actress best known for her role in the American soap opera Dynasty. Her mother is Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia from the Karađorđević dynasty
Peter Bogdanovich: an American film historian, director, writer, actor, producer, and critic. He was part of the wave of “New Hollywood” directors. He is most famous for his film The Last Picture Show
Steve Tesich: Oscar-winning screenwriter, playwright, and novelist. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Breaking Away.
Charles Simić: born Dušan Simić,he was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007
Walt Bogdanich; investigative journalist and assistant editor for The New York Times Investigations Desk. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Specialized Reporting while working for The Wall Street Journal in 1985. He won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2005 as a reporter for The New York Times. In 2008 He and a New York Times colleague won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.
 
 
Athletes
Milorad Čavić: swimmer who is a dual citizen of Serbia and the United States. He participated in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Summer Olympics. He won a silver medal in the 100 m butterfly race, losing to Michael Phelps.
Peter Maravich: NBA basketball star who played on the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Jazz, and Boston Celtics. In 1987, at age 39, Maravich was the youngest person to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame
Jeff Samardzija: former football wide receiver at the University of Notre Dame and baseball pitcher for the Chicago Cubs
Gregg Popovich; head coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.
John Vukovich: professional baseball player and coach of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Predrag Radosavljević: head coach of Chivas USA. He is known as “Preki.”
     
Business
Milan Panić: multimillionaire who ran for President of Serbia in 1992 but lost to Slobodan Milošević. He founded ICN Pharmaceuticals and is based in Newport Beach and Pasadena, California.
 
Miscellaneous
Peter Baćanović: Martha Stewart’s stockbroker and fellow defendant in the ImClone stock scandal.
Milan Mandarić: businessman who has owned successful soccer clubs in England, including Portsmouth and Leicester City.
Alisa Marić: chess player who holds dual citizenship. She holds The World Chess Organization (FIDE: Fédération Internationale des Échecs) titles of Woman Grandmaster and International Master.

Branko Milanovic

: lead economist in the World Bank’s research department in the unit dealing with poverty and inequality. He is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

During the George W. Bush administration, the United States gradually lifted all previously imposed sanctions against Serbia, except on the owners of bank accounts and financial transactions of Slobodan Milošević’s closest associates. Also, the US included Serbia into the list of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which enabled tariff-free export of over 4,600 products from Serbia to the United States. A conference on trade and US investment in Serbia and Montenegro was held in November 2005. Along with the increase of trade exchange, the conference provided a new impetus to the development of bilateral economic cooperation.

 

However, there are still difficulties for the US-Serbian relationship. One is Serbia’s failure to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Since 2001, Congress has conditioned part of US aid to Serbia after a certain date of the year on a presidential certification that Serbia has met several conditions, the most important being that it is cooperating with the ICTY. Serbia’s cooperation with the tribunal has been inconsistent, resulting in corresponding shifts in US aid to Serbia.

 

For many years, the United States conditioned its support for Serbia’s membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program on Mladić’s transfer to the tribunal. In a move that surprised many observers, in November 2006 the Bush administration reversed this policy and offered support for Serbia’s unconditional membership in PFP. The move was taken in response to a letter by President Tadić  to NATO leaders promising to improve Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY.

 

Perhaps the most serious obstacle to stronger US-Serbian relations is the problem of Kosovo’s status. The United States has strongly backed Kosovo independence, while almost all Serbian leaders have rejected the idea. An overwhelming majority in the Serbian parliament views Kosovo as an inalienable part of Serbia, and has called for a downgrading of relations with any country recognizing Kosovo’s independence.

 

After recalling its ambassador to Washington in February 2008 in the wake of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Serbia in October 2008 returned Ambassador Vujačić to Washington.

 

Within the US Congress, the Serbian Issues Caucus was established in the US House of Representatives in August 2004, led by Reps. Dan Burton (R-IN) and Melissa Bean (D-IL). The caucus scored its first success by preventing a resolution on the independence of Kosovo and Metohija from being adopted in the House Committee on International Relations on October 7, 2004. The Serbian Embassy has tried to form a “Serbian Caucus” in the Senate as well.

 

A total of 140,337 people identified themselves as Serbian in the 2000 US census. The states with the largest Serbian populations are Pennsylvania (18,306), Illinois (17,893), Ohio (16,859), California (12,760), and Michigan, (8,709).  

 

In 2006, 13,552 Americans visited Serbia. Tourism has grown steadily since 2002, when 9,710 Americans traveled to Serbia.

 

A total of 2,442 Serbians and Montenegrins visited the US in 2006. The number of tourists has declined drastically since 2002, when 10,972 Serbians and Montenegrins came to the United States.

 

 

Serbia: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

(by Steven Woehrel, Congressional Research Service)

 

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Where Does the Money Flow

 

Trade between the US and Serbia did not begin until 2007. That year, the US imported $58.2 million from Serbia, while exporting $109 million. In 2008, the US imported $71.6 million and exported $207 million. The leading imports from Serbia in 2008 were finished metal shapes and advanced manufacturing ($17.2 million). This was followed by other military equipment ($14.5 million), fruits and frozen juices ($6.4 million), bakery and confectionary products ($2.4 million), other industrial machinery ($2.4 million), and leather or rubber footwear ($2.4 million).
 
American exports to Serbia were led by civilian aircraft, engines, equipment, and parts ($37 million) which has doubled since 2007, drilling and oilfield equipment ($30 million) which is up from $3 million in 2007, minimum value shipments ($18 million), and new and used passenger cars ($16.5 million).
 
Two major American investors, US Steel and Ball Packaging, recently announced additional investments to expand production capacity in Serbia.
 
The US sold $106,056 of defense articles and services to Serbia in 2007.
 
The US gave $50 million to Serbia in 2009 and proposes to give $54.6 million in 2010. The 2009 budget allocates the most funds to Civil Society ($14 million), Rule of Law and Human Rights ($7.8 million), Agriculture ($6.8 million), Stabilization Operations and Security ($6.3 million), and Private Sector Competitiveness ($6.2 million).
 

Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (pages 378-382)

(PDF)

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Controversies

 

Serbian Beats College Student in US
In July 2008, a hulking basketball player from Serbia beat a fellow college student in upstate New York and fled to his home country, setting off a diplomatic crisis. US senators intervened on the victim’s behalf, reaching out to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and threatening to pull back aid to Serbia over the episode. Serbia refused to cooperate, damaging relations between the two countries just as the nation’s new pro-Western government was hoping for a new era in diplomacy with the United States. The parents of Bryan Steinhauer, who authorities said was assaulted by Miladin Kovačević in Binghamton, said their son was slowly emerging from a coma. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound Kovačević and two other men were arrested on assault charges after Steinhauer was nearly beaten to death. Steinhauer’s parents said their son was repeatedly kicked in the head while he lay bleeding on the floor and suffered multiple skull fractures. Serbia, for its part, refuses to send Kovačević to the United States for his trials because “Serbia is a sovereign and democratic country with an independent judiciary,” said Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić.
Beating at Upstate N.Y. Bar Strains Relations Between U.S., Serbia (by Karen Matthews, Associated Press)
Serbia Will Not Extradite Student Wanted in US (by Dušan Stojanović, Associated Press)

Serbs Attacks US Embassy over Kosovo
Angry Serbs protesting Kosovo’s independence in February 2008 stormed the US Embassy in Belgrade and set its facade on fire. Police eventually drove off the protesters, and firefighters brought the blaze under control. No one at the embassy was injured. An estimated 150,000 Serbs marched through the city center and prayed with leaders of the Christian Orthodox Church to lament the loss of Kosovo, until this week Serbia’s southernmost province and a cherished site of the country’s religious heritage. But groups of young, masked Serbs broke off from the main demonstration and began attacking Western embassies. They torched cars and rampaged through city streets. Chanting for Americans to go home, they ended up at the US Embassy and broke through or scaled the protective gates and set part of the building on fire. One protester climbed up to the first floor of an embassy building, ripped the American flag off its pole and briefly put up a Serbian flag in its place.
Serbs protesting Kosovo split storm U.S. Embassy in Belgrade (by Zoran Ćirjaković, Los Angeles Times)
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Human Rights

 

According to Human Rights Watch, recent infractions of human rights are connected to the presence of a Roma community in Serbia. On April 3, 2009 47 Roma families were evicted from their homes in Belgrade with only 15 days notice beforehand. The families had nowhere to move and are subsequently living in the streets. Human Rights Watch calls for the Serbian government’s attention to the matter and advocates that they compensate the families for lost or damaged property. Serbia is currently holding the presidency of the Roma Decade of Inclusion, an initiative of European governments to address the situation of the Roma population. This role, therefore, means that Serbia is “obliged under international law to protect people from forced eviction.” 
 
According to the State Department, the Belgrade special court for organized crime concluded the trial of 12 suspects, including former secret police special unit (JSO) commander Milorad Ulemek and his deputy Zvezdan Jovanović, in the 2003 assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić. In June 2006 key witness Zoran Vukojević was killed. The court found all 12 suspects guilty of conspiracy against the constitutional order and security of the state, assassination of a high state official, and attempted murder (for an earlier assassination attempt). Ulemek and Jovanović each received the maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. The other defendants received sentences ranging from the minimum of eight years to 35 years in prison. Special Prosecutor Slobodan Radovanović stated that he would appeal the lower sentences. Ulemek and Jovanović’s lawyers announced that they would appeal the verdict.
 
In June the Supreme Court upheld its 2006 confirmation of the conviction of Ulemek and others for the 2000 killing of former Serbian president Ivan Stambolić. This ruling exhausted the defendants’ appeal process and was the country’s first final verdict in a high-profile organized crime case.
 
The government continued its investigation into the disappearance and subsequent killing of Yili, Mehmet, and Agron Bytyqi in 1999, three US citizen brothers. In 2001, their bodies were discovered with hands bound and gunshot wounds to their heads in 2001 in a mass grave in Petrovo Selo. The special war crimes court continued the trial of Sreten Popović and Miloš Stojanović, two former members of a special police unit accused of the killings.
 
The acting prosecutor general announced that he would soon make a decision whether to file indictments in the case of the 1999 killing of journalist Slavko Ćuruvija, owner of the Dnevni Telegraf newspaper and Evropljanin magazine.
 
The trial of eight police officers for the 1999 killing of 48 ethnic Albanians in Suva Reka in Kosovo resumed. Božidar Delić testified for the defense and the trial lasted until the end of 2008.
 
Prison conditions for the 9,400 people incarcerated in 28 facilities vary depending on their location.
This is almost double the capacity for Serbian prisons and 6,500 more people are waiting for prison placement. The prisons are still characterized in some cases by dirty and inhuman conditions in addition to insufficient food and poor healthcare. In 2007, nine inmates committed suicide, sixty-seven attempted suicide, and 215 physically injured themselves in protest.
 
Because the national police force comprises Serbs, Bosniaks, ethnic Hungarians, ethnic Albanians, and ethnic Montenegrins, its effectiveness varies throughout the country. There are reports of corruption and impunity. The interior ministry inspector general's office, subsequently renamed Internal Control, obtained somewhat increased authority to actively investigate abuses in addition to addressing citizens' complaints.
 
There were reports that the government interfered with these freedoms and carried out reprisals against persons who criticized the government. Independent media organizations were generally active and expressed a wide range of views. But some media organizations experienced threats or reprisals for publishing views critical of the government. During the year there was a decrease in criticism of the government in the press. There was increased concern about declining professional and ethical standards and the rise of tabloid journalism. Many reporters lacked professionalism in citing sources and achieving accuracy.
 
Violence against women was a problem, and high levels of domestic violence persisted. Domestic violence is a crime punishable by a prison sentence of six months to 10 years, depending on the seriousness of the offense, and a minimum of 10 years if death results. Cases of rape, including spousal rape, is punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Such cases were difficult to prosecute due to lack of witnesses and evidence and unwillingness of witnesses or victims to testify. A report by Romani NGOs found that “of the half of the respondents who would discuss domestic violence, over 75 percent reported experiencing verbal or physical abuse. The respondents said that police did not act to protect them and that they were excluded from some state-funded safe houses.” The Serbian Victimology Society reported in 2006 that “one-third of women have been victims of physical violence and half of women have been victims of psychological violence.” Because these cases are often undocumented, they are prone to be long-lasting.
 
Serbia’s minister for labor and social policy, Rasim Ljajić, stated that 155,000 children live in poverty and 161,000 receive some kind of social assistance. The government documented 1,640 cases of neglect in 2007. 
 

Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International

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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

 

Note: On May 21, 1992, the United States announced that it did not recognize the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was composed of the Republics of Serbia and Montenegro, as a successor state of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
 
Richard M. Miles
Arrived at post Aug 2, 1996.
Termination of Mission: Embassy Belgrade was closed Mar 23, 1999. Miles and the last Embassy personnel left Mar 24, and NATO armed forces began military action against Serbia-Montenegro that evening.
 
William Dale Montgomery
Appointment: Nov 26, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 4, 2002
Termination of Mission: Feb 29, 2004
Note: Originally commissioned to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; continued to serve after country's name was changed to Serbia and Montenegro Feb 4, 2003.
 
Michael Christian Polt
Appointment: May 12, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: May 21, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 3, 2007
Note: The United States recognized the Republic of Montenegro, Jun 13, 2006.

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Serbia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Petrović, Vladimir

 

Born in Kragujevac, Vladimir Petrović completed his high school and elementary education in Belgrade. For college he went to Georgia State University where he earned his Bachelor in Arts degree in Political Science.
 
Until 2002, Petrović worked for companies in Atlanta, Georgia. These companies include CARE-USA a humanitarian organization aimed at fighting global poverty, the American law firms of Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick & Morrison LLP, and Gray, Rust, St. Amand, Moffett & Brieske. In 2002 he was part of the Joseph Moore for Alderman Campaign in Chicago, Illinois. He was also the field director for David Fink’s congressional campaign. 
 
In 2004 he became the Deputy Director of Illinois Trade Office where he fundraised and was involved in numerous campaigns.
 
Petrović returned to Serbia in 2007 to be a part of the newly elected government. He was chosen to be Minister Counselor in the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. On August 20, 2007, he became the Minister Counselor and the Deputy Chief of Mission to the Embassy of Serbia in Washington, DC. He served as Chargé d’Affaires until February 2009 when he was appointed Serbia’s Ambassador of the to the United States.
 
Vladimir Petrović’s Official Biography

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Serbia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Elena 2 years ago
Russian Jews in Israel tend to be sympathetic to Serbs, and they are a pourfewl voting block.In terms of Israel following US policy, many cynically say that it is the opposite. I jest, of course, since there really isn't much separating the two countries. Israel did supply precision bombs to the US when they started running out during the unanticipatedly long US bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999. That was a very bad move on the part of Israel, and there has been some active covering up going on about that fact.
sandy giordano 5 years ago
please help me find information on doljane and the medich family for genealogy.
sandy (medich) giordano 5 years ago
please find updated info on doljane for me
sandy (medich) giordano 7 years ago
I am tracing my family history in Serbia, and my ghedo was born in Doljane,a small settlement of Krusevac, and I don't want wikipedia info, I need info about his family, he left there in 1905 and emigrated to the US, can you help, I'm at a dead end? hvala!

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U.S. Ambassador to Serbia

Kirby, Michael
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A career diplomat who has served mainly in Eastern Europe is President Obama’s nominee to be the next ambassador to Serbia, the Balkan nation with which the U.S. has had sometimes tense relations since the breakup of Yugoslavia began in the early 1990s. One of four children born to parents Richard N. and Dolores (Senkfor) Kirby, Michael David Kirby was born circa 1954. He was likely inspired to pursue a Foreign Service career by the example of his father, a Foreign Service officer who, among other postings, was consul general in Hong Kong in 1963.

 

Michael Kirby earned a B.A. in History at the University of Pennsylvania in 1976 and then studied at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. A career consular officer who joined the Foreign Service circa 1979, Kirby served early career assignments at the U.S. embassies in Copenhagen, Denmark; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Georgetown, Guyana; and at State Department Headquarters as a desk officer in the Office of Caribbean Affairs. In Tanzania and Guyana, Kirby served as vice consul.

 

Continuing on that career path, Kirby served as consul at the Consulate General in Krakow, Poland, from 1988 to 1991, and as regional consular officer at the Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany, from 1996 to 1998, supervising consular operations at U.S. embassies in the countries of the former Soviet Union except Russia.

 

 Returning stateside, he served as director of the Office of Intelligence Coordination at the State Department from 1999 to 2001. Back overseas, Kirby was consul general at the embassy in Warsaw from 2001 to 2004, and consul general at the embassy in Seoul, South Korea, the State Department’s largest non-immigrant visa post, from 2004 to 2006.

 

Kirby was then appointed to his first ambassadorship in September 2006, serving as ambassador at the embassy in Chişinău, Moldova, from September 2006 to May 2008. He became the principal deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs in June 2008, when he almost immediately confronted with the embarrassing revelation that some State Department employees had been improperly accessing the passport files of various celebrities. More recently, in June 2010, Kirby was involved in the decision to recognize gender change on U.S. passports.

 

Michael Kirby is married to Sara Powelson Kirby and has two daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth.

-Matt Bewig

 

Official Biography

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Serbia

Munter, Cameron
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With the war in Afghanistan spilling over into Pakistan, where the CIA has launched numerous drone attacks on insurgents, the Obama administration selected Cameron Munter, a veteran diplomat with experience in Iraq, to run the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. Munter also is used to working in countries undergoing some kind of political transition, although all of those previous assignments took place in Europe. Munter was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Pakistan on October 6, 2010. 

 
The son of Helen-Jeanne and Leonard Munter, Cameron Munter was born in Claremont, California, in 1954. Munter attended Claremont High School, where he distinguished himself as a distance runner on the cross country and track teams. His college education took place at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the universities in Freiburg and Marburg in Germany. He received a doctoral degree in modern European history in 1983 from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. 
 
Munter began his career as a college professor, teaching European history at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1982-1984. He directed European studies at the Twentieth Century Fund in New York (1984-1985) before joining the Foreign Service.
 
His first overseas assignment took him to Warsaw, Poland (1986-1988). He returned to Washington, DC, in 1988 to serve as a staff assistant in the State Department’s Bureau of European Affairs and then as country director for Czechoslovakia. In 1991, he was a Dean Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
 
The following year he was sent to Prague in the Czech Republic, serving there until 1995. It was then onto Bonn, Germany (1995-1997), before becoming chief of staff in the NATO Enlargement Ratification Office.
 
In 1998, Munter was director of the Northern European Initiative and then executive assistant to the counselor of the State Department (1998-1999). He served as director for Central Europe at the National Security Council until 2001.
 
Beginning in 2002, Munter began taking on larger roles in U.S. embassies, first as deputy chief of mission in Warsaw until 2005 and then in Prague from 2005 to 2007.
 
In 2006, he led the first Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul, Iraq.
 
His first ambassador assignment was in Belgrade, Serbia, from 2007 to 2009. The posting was not without difficulties, as Serbian rioters upset over the American position on Kosovo, set fire to the embassy in 2008. The protests sparked a strong response from Munter, who warned the Serbian government not to allow any more attacks on the diplomatic mission.
 
He returned to Iraq in 2009, this time at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. He served as political-military minister-counselor, then as deputy chief of mission for the first half of 2010, directing strategic planning and American civil-military coordination during the military pullout.
 
Munter’s wife, Marilyn Wyatt, is the author of A Handbook of NGO Governance. She has served as Director of Communications at the Aspen Institute and Director of Global Programs as BoardSource. The couple has a son, Daniel, and a daughter, Anna.
 
Official Biography (State Department)
Cameron Munter ‘New US Ambassador’ (by Baqir Sajjad Syed, Dawn.com)

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Overview

Following a decade of animosity stemming from Serbia’s military actions during the Bosnia war and its subsequent attacks against Kosovo, relations between Serbia and the United States are beginning to improve., In the early 1990s, as the former Yugoslavia began to break apart, Serbian nationalists led by Slobodan Milošević attempted to unite Serbs in breakaway regions such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Paramilitary units backed by the Serbian government attacked Bosniaks and Croats, committing numerous human rights abuses, including the wholesale slaughter of entire villages. The United States and its NATO allies were reluctant at first to become involved in the Bosnian war, but eventually by 1994-95, they carried out air strikes to neutralize the power of the Serbian military. Only a few years later, Serbia again gained international scorn as it attempted to violently suppress an independence movement in the province of Kosovo. Once again, the US and European countries intervened militarily to blunt Serbian attacks.

The power of Serbian nationalists began to wane by 2000 and Milošević was forced from power following contested elections. He was subsequently arrested and sent to The Hague to be tried for war crimes, but died of a heart attack before the trial ended. With a new government in power in Belgrade, relations with Washington began to improve. Trade sanctions were lifted, and the US even began to provide limited military training to a newly revamped Serbian army. But difficulties have continued to arise for the US-Serbian relationship. The Bush administration’s recognition of Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008 provoked violent protests against the US Embassy in Belgrade. In addition, the violent assault of an American college student in upstate New York by a visiting Serbian student, who subsequently fled the country to avoid prosecution, has created strains between officials in Washington and Belgrade.

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Basic Information

 

Lay of the Land: Located in southeastern Europe, Serbia is bordered by Hungary to the north, Romania and Bulgaria to the east, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro to the south, and Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia to the west.
 
Population: 10.2 million
 
Religions: Serbian Orthodox 85%, Catholic 5.5%, Muslim 3.2%, Protestant 1.1%, other 2.6%, non-religious 2.6%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Serb 82.9%, Hungarian 3.9%, Bosniak 1.8%, Roma 1.4%, Yugoslav 1.1%, Montenegrin 0.9%, other 8%.
 
Languages: Serbian (official) 88.3%, Hungarian 3.8%, Bosniak 1.8%, Roma 1.1%, other 4.1%, unknown 0.9%. Hungarian, Slovak, Ukrainian, and Croatian are all official in Vojvodina.
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History

The first Serbian kingdom was created in 1170 by Stefan Nemanja, whose son was canonized as St. Sava and became the patron saint of the Serbian Orthodox Church which was founded in 1219. Serbia’s territories expanded under the rule of King Milutin, who seized territory in nearby Macedonia from the Byzantines. The territories reached their peak under Milutin’s son, Stefan Dušan (1331-1355).

Serbian power waned after Stefan’s death in 1355, and at the Battle of Kosovo on June 28, 1389, the Serbs were defeated by the Turks. Following the Battle of Smederevo in 1459, the Ottoman Empire exerted complete control over all Serb lands.
 
Serbs lived under the rule of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 370 years, though the Serbian Orthodox Church, despite several disruptions, transmitted Serbian heritage and helped preserve Serbian identity during this period. Movements for Serbian independence began with uprisings led by Karađorđe Petrović  (1804-1813) and Miloš Obrenović  (1815-1817), founders of two rival dynasties that ruled Serbia until World War I. Serbia became an internationally recognized principality under Turkish and Russian protection after the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829.

After waging war against Turkey in support of Bosnian rebels in 1876, Serbia formally gained independence in 1878 at the Congress of Berlin, largely thanks to Russian support. Following Austria-Hungary’s annexation of Bosnia, Serbia led a successful coalition of Montenegrin, Bulgarian, and Greek troops (the Balkan League) that in 1913 seized remaining Ottoman-controlled territory in Europe and established Serbia as a regional military leader.

The assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo by a Bosnian Serb (Gavrilo Princip) set off a series of diplomatic and military actions among the great powers that culminated in World War I. Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian forces occupied Serbia soon after World War I began. After the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the war’s end in 1918, Vojvodina and Montenegro united with Serbia, and former south Slav subjects of the Habsburgs sought the protection of the Serbian crown within the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.

Serbia was the dominant partner in this state, which in 1929 adopted the name Yugoslavia.
The kingdom soon encountered resistance when Croatians began to resent control from Belgrade. This pressure prompted King Alexander I to split the traditional regions into nine administrative provinces. During World War II, the Axis powers occupied Yugoslavia. Royal army soldiers, calling themselves Chetniks, formed a Serbian resistance movement, but the communist Partisans, with Soviet and Anglo-American help, succeeded in defeating the Chetniks and in forcing German forces from Yugoslavia by 1944. In an effort to avoid Serbian domination during the postwar years, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, and Montenegro were given separate and equal republican status within the new socialist federation of Yugoslavia. Kosovo and Vojvodina were made autonomous provinces within Yugoslavia.

Despite the appearance of a federal system of government in Yugoslavia, Serbian communists ruled Yugoslavia’s political life for the next four decades under Josip Broz Tito. After Tito made several significant foreign policy decisions without consulting Moscow, Yugoslavia was expelled from the Soviet bloc in 1948, signifying a split with Moscow that left Tito independent to accept aid from the Marshall Plan and become a leader of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Communist rule transformed Serbia from an agrarian society into an industrial society. But by the 1980s Yugoslavia’s economy started to fail. With the death of Tito in 1980, separatist and nationalist tensions emerged in Yugoslavia.

In the late 1980s, Slobodan Milošević propelled himself to power in Belgrade by exploiting Serbian nationalism, especially over Kosovo. In 1989, he arranged the elimination of Kosovo’s autonomy in favor of direct rule from Belgrade. Belgrade ordered the firing of large numbers of Albanian state employees, whose jobs were then taken by Serbs. As a result of this oppression, Kosovo Albanian leaders led a peaceful resistance movement in the early 1990s and established a parallel government funded mainly by Albanians living throughout the world.  

Between 1991 and 1992, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia all seceded from Yugoslavia, leaving the country on the brink of civil war. On April 27, 1992, Serbia and Montenegro joined in passing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY). Meanwhile, Serbs in Bosnia, led by strongman Radovan Karadžić, declared four self-proclaimed “Serb Autonomous Regions” within Bosnia. For Bosnian Serbs, their intentions were to separate from Bosnia and join with Serbia. A few months later, the Bosnian Serb army, led by Ratko Mladić, went on the offensive inside Bosnia. Backed by Serbia, the Bosnian Serb forces laid siege to Sarajevo, which lasted almost three years. Food became scarce, and between starvation and military assaults, more than 12,000 residents were killed.

While Sarajevo was under siege, Karadžić’s paramilitary units also carried out a systematic policy of “ethnic cleansing” to establish a “pure” Serb republic within Bosnia. Croats (who were accused other their own atrocities and attacks, including the siege of Mostar) and Bosniaks were subjected to forced relocations, assaults, rapes and executions. Entire villages were destroyed, such as Srebrenica, where 8,000 Bosniaks lost their lives. For three years, the slaughter was allowed to continue while Western European powers and the United States stood by, unwilling to get involved in the conflict.

It wasn’t until 1995 that military forces under the command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launched air strikes against the Bosnian Serb army to prevent more attacks on United Nations safe-havens for refugees. Later that year in November, the warring parties signed the Dayton Peace Accords, bringing an end to the bloody conflict. In December 1995, NATO deployed a 60,000-troop Implementation Force to enforce the peace accords. IFOR transitioned into a smaller stabilization force in 1996. By 2004, the European Union assumed primary responsibility for military stabilization operations. Approximately 2,200 EU troops remain deployed in Bosnia

Karadžić and Mladić were indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague in July 1995 on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Karadžić alluded capture until July 2008 when he was arrested in Serbia. Mladić remains at large.

Two years later, another war threatened to erupt in Kosovo, when the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began an armed resistance in 1997. The KLA’s main goal was to secure the independence of Kosovo.

In late 1998, Milošević unleashed a brutal police and military campaign against the separatist KLA, which included atrocities against civilian noncombatants. For the duration of Milošević's campaign, large numbers of ethnic Albanians were either displaced from their homes in Kosovo or killed by Serbian troops or police. These acts, and Serbia’s refusal to sign the Rambouillet Accords, provoked 79 days of bombing by NATO forces from March to June 1999 and led the UN Security Council to authorize an international civil and military presence in Kosovo, placing these international presences under UN auspices, calling for a process to determine Kosovo’s status, and calling for UN interim administration of Kosovo. Following Milošević’s capitulation, international forces, including the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the NATO-led security force KFOR, moved into Kosovo.

Milošević resigned from office amid demonstrations that followed the disputed presidential election of September 2000. He was arrested by Yugoslav federal authorities in March 2001 on suspicion of corruption, abuse of power, and embezzlement. But instead of being tried by Serbian courts, the government extradited him to The Hague to stand trial for charges of war crimes. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia charged Milošević with crimes against humanity, violating the laws or customs of war, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and genocide for his role during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. Milošević conducted his own defense, but the trial ended without a verdict because he died during the proceedings of a heart attack.

In March 2002, the heads of the federal and republican governments signed the Belgrade Agreement, setting forth the parameters for a redefinition of Montenegro’s relationship with Serbia within a joint state. On February 4, 2003, the FRY parliament ratified the Constitutional Charter, establishing a new state union and changing the name of the country from Yugoslavia to Serbia and Montenegro.

On May 21, 2006, the Republic of Montenegro held a successful referendum on independence and declared independence on June 3. Thereafter, the parliament of Serbia stated that the Republic of Serbia was the continuity of the state union, changing the name of the country from Serbia and Montenegro to the Republic of Serbia, with Serbia retaining Serbia and Montenegro’s membership in all international organizations and bodies.

On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared its independence following a 120-day last-ditch effort by the European Union, Russia and the United States to facilitate an agreement between Serbia and Kosovo on the latter’s status. The United States officially recognized Kosovo’s independence the following day. More than 50 nations recognized Kosovo as of late 2008. Serbia has rejected Kosovo independence. Government officials declared their intent to pursue all peaceful, political, and diplomatic means to retain Kosovo and sought a UN resolution to request that the International Court of Justice review the legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence. After a vigorous lobbying campaign, on October 9, 2008, the UN General Assembly voted in favor of Serbia’s proposal.

Official Website of the Serbian Government
History of Serbia (Wikipedia)
Serbia and Montenegro (Virtual Jewish History Tour)
National Tourism Organization of Serbia

 
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History of U.S. Relations with Serbia

 

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Serbia were first established in 1879, with the opening of the Consulate-General in New York. The US supported the creation of the first South Slav common state in 1918.
 
The first documented Serbians arrived in the United States in the early 19th century, although it wasn't until the turn of the 20th century that Serbians began arriving en masse. Early immigrants mostly hailed from border zones, where Serbians had been historically encouraged by the Austro-Hungarian Empire to settle and act as a buffer against the frequent Turkish incursions. 
 
When the Austrian emperor revoked Serbian political autonomy and curbed religious freedom in 1869, many Serbians who felt betrayed began to immigrate to the US. These were mainly uneducated, single young men who intended to work temporarily in the heavy industries before returning home with their accumulated savings. Immigration slowed significantly with the implementation of a literacy test in 1917, and nearly ground to a halt when the restrictive, quota-based Immigration Act of 1924 was passed. 
 
The Displaced Persons Act of 1948 and the Refugee Relief Act of 1953 admitted a large number of Serbians: those attached to the Allied military, prisoners of war, inmates at Nazi internment camps, and supporters of the anti-communist forces in Yugoslavia. Unlike their predecessors, these immigrants were primarily urbane, politically motivated members of the middle and upper classes, and were focused on disrupting the unity and sovereignty of the Yugoslavian state. The last wave has arrived in the wake of the Yugoslavia’s collapse in 1991, and has mostly immigrated for economic rather than political reasons. 
In response to Serbia’s support for Bosnian Serb attacks in the Balkans war, the US imposed economic and military sanctions against Serbia in 1992.
 
After severing diplomatic relations in March 1999 following Serbia’s attacks against Kosovo, the US Embassy in Belgrade formally reopened in May 2001. US officials hailed the success of Serbian democrats in defeating the Milošević regime in elections in 2000 and early 2001.
 
Serbia - US Bilateral Relations (Serbian Embassy, Washington DC)
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Current U.S. Relations with Serbia

 

Noted Serbian-Americans
Politics
Melissa Bean (née Luburić): Democratic member of the House of Representatives representing Illinois’s 8th congressional district.
Helen Delich Bentley: former Republican member of the House of Representatives from Maryland
Milorad “Rod” Blagojevich: former governor of Illinois from 2003-2009. He was a Democratic member of the House of Representatives before becoming governor. In December 2008, he was arrested on federal corruption charges that involved conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. In January 2009, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to impeach Balgojevich by a 114-1 vote for corruption and misconduct in office.
George Voinovich: the senior senator from Ohio. He previously served as the 65th governor of Ohio and the 54th mayor of Cleveland
Rose Ann Vuich: first female member of the California State Senate. She served from 1977 until 1993.
 
Science
Nikola Tesla: Ethnic Serb born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire on land that is today Croatia, Tesla was a physicist who is widely respected as one of the greatest electrical engineers who worked in the United States. He pioneered modern electrical engineering and worked in electromagnetism and electromechanical engineering. He contributed to the establishment of robotics, remote control, radar and, computer science. He expanded the fields of ballistics, nuclear physics and theoretical physics. The Supreme Court of the United States credits him as being the inventor of the radio, and the International System of Units measure called the “tesla” is named in his honor as is the “Tesla effect” of wireless energy transfer.
 
Arts/Entertainment/Media
Sascha Alexander: Born Suzana S. Drobnjaković, she is known for her roles as NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) Special Agent Caitlin “Kate” Todd and in the movies Mission: Impossible III and He’s Just Not That Into You
Brad Dexter: Born Boris Michel Soso, he is known his role in The Magnificent Seven
Karl Malden: Born Mladen George Sekulovich, he acted in A Streetcar Named Desire, Pollyanna and many other films. His mother was Czech and his father was Serbian.
Natalia Nogulich; actress best known for her appearances on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Catherine Oxenberg; actress best known for her role in the American soap opera Dynasty. Her mother is Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia from the Karađorđević dynasty
Peter Bogdanovich: an American film historian, director, writer, actor, producer, and critic. He was part of the wave of “New Hollywood” directors. He is most famous for his film The Last Picture Show
Steve Tesich: Oscar-winning screenwriter, playwright, and novelist. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Breaking Away.
Charles Simić: born Dušan Simić,he was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007
Walt Bogdanich; investigative journalist and assistant editor for The New York Times Investigations Desk. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Specialized Reporting while working for The Wall Street Journal in 1985. He won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2005 as a reporter for The New York Times. In 2008 He and a New York Times colleague won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.
 
 
Athletes
Milorad Čavić: swimmer who is a dual citizen of Serbia and the United States. He participated in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Summer Olympics. He won a silver medal in the 100 m butterfly race, losing to Michael Phelps.
Peter Maravich: NBA basketball star who played on the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Jazz, and Boston Celtics. In 1987, at age 39, Maravich was the youngest person to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame
Jeff Samardzija: former football wide receiver at the University of Notre Dame and baseball pitcher for the Chicago Cubs
Gregg Popovich; head coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs.
John Vukovich: professional baseball player and coach of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Predrag Radosavljević: head coach of Chivas USA. He is known as “Preki.”
     
Business
Milan Panić: multimillionaire who ran for President of Serbia in 1992 but lost to Slobodan Milošević. He founded ICN Pharmaceuticals and is based in Newport Beach and Pasadena, California.
 
Miscellaneous
Peter Baćanović: Martha Stewart’s stockbroker and fellow defendant in the ImClone stock scandal.
Milan Mandarić: businessman who has owned successful soccer clubs in England, including Portsmouth and Leicester City.
Alisa Marić: chess player who holds dual citizenship. She holds The World Chess Organization (FIDE: Fédération Internationale des Échecs) titles of Woman Grandmaster and International Master.

Branko Milanovic

: lead economist in the World Bank’s research department in the unit dealing with poverty and inequality. He is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

During the George W. Bush administration, the United States gradually lifted all previously imposed sanctions against Serbia, except on the owners of bank accounts and financial transactions of Slobodan Milošević’s closest associates. Also, the US included Serbia into the list of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which enabled tariff-free export of over 4,600 products from Serbia to the United States. A conference on trade and US investment in Serbia and Montenegro was held in November 2005. Along with the increase of trade exchange, the conference provided a new impetus to the development of bilateral economic cooperation.

 

However, there are still difficulties for the US-Serbian relationship. One is Serbia’s failure to fully cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Since 2001, Congress has conditioned part of US aid to Serbia after a certain date of the year on a presidential certification that Serbia has met several conditions, the most important being that it is cooperating with the ICTY. Serbia’s cooperation with the tribunal has been inconsistent, resulting in corresponding shifts in US aid to Serbia.

 

For many years, the United States conditioned its support for Serbia’s membership in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program on Mladić’s transfer to the tribunal. In a move that surprised many observers, in November 2006 the Bush administration reversed this policy and offered support for Serbia’s unconditional membership in PFP. The move was taken in response to a letter by President Tadić  to NATO leaders promising to improve Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY.

 

Perhaps the most serious obstacle to stronger US-Serbian relations is the problem of Kosovo’s status. The United States has strongly backed Kosovo independence, while almost all Serbian leaders have rejected the idea. An overwhelming majority in the Serbian parliament views Kosovo as an inalienable part of Serbia, and has called for a downgrading of relations with any country recognizing Kosovo’s independence.

 

After recalling its ambassador to Washington in February 2008 in the wake of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Serbia in October 2008 returned Ambassador Vujačić to Washington.

 

Within the US Congress, the Serbian Issues Caucus was established in the US House of Representatives in August 2004, led by Reps. Dan Burton (R-IN) and Melissa Bean (D-IL). The caucus scored its first success by preventing a resolution on the independence of Kosovo and Metohija from being adopted in the House Committee on International Relations on October 7, 2004. The Serbian Embassy has tried to form a “Serbian Caucus” in the Senate as well.

 

A total of 140,337 people identified themselves as Serbian in the 2000 US census. The states with the largest Serbian populations are Pennsylvania (18,306), Illinois (17,893), Ohio (16,859), California (12,760), and Michigan, (8,709).  

 

In 2006, 13,552 Americans visited Serbia. Tourism has grown steadily since 2002, when 9,710 Americans traveled to Serbia.

 

A total of 2,442 Serbians and Montenegrins visited the US in 2006. The number of tourists has declined drastically since 2002, when 10,972 Serbians and Montenegrins came to the United States.

 

 

Serbia: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

(by Steven Woehrel, Congressional Research Service)

 

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Where Does the Money Flow

 

Trade between the US and Serbia did not begin until 2007. That year, the US imported $58.2 million from Serbia, while exporting $109 million. In 2008, the US imported $71.6 million and exported $207 million. The leading imports from Serbia in 2008 were finished metal shapes and advanced manufacturing ($17.2 million). This was followed by other military equipment ($14.5 million), fruits and frozen juices ($6.4 million), bakery and confectionary products ($2.4 million), other industrial machinery ($2.4 million), and leather or rubber footwear ($2.4 million).
 
American exports to Serbia were led by civilian aircraft, engines, equipment, and parts ($37 million) which has doubled since 2007, drilling and oilfield equipment ($30 million) which is up from $3 million in 2007, minimum value shipments ($18 million), and new and used passenger cars ($16.5 million).
 
Two major American investors, US Steel and Ball Packaging, recently announced additional investments to expand production capacity in Serbia.
 
The US sold $106,056 of defense articles and services to Serbia in 2007.
 
The US gave $50 million to Serbia in 2009 and proposes to give $54.6 million in 2010. The 2009 budget allocates the most funds to Civil Society ($14 million), Rule of Law and Human Rights ($7.8 million), Agriculture ($6.8 million), Stabilization Operations and Security ($6.3 million), and Private Sector Competitiveness ($6.2 million).
 

Congressional Budget for Foreign Operations (pages 378-382)

(PDF)

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Controversies

 

Serbian Beats College Student in US
In July 2008, a hulking basketball player from Serbia beat a fellow college student in upstate New York and fled to his home country, setting off a diplomatic crisis. US senators intervened on the victim’s behalf, reaching out to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and threatening to pull back aid to Serbia over the episode. Serbia refused to cooperate, damaging relations between the two countries just as the nation’s new pro-Western government was hoping for a new era in diplomacy with the United States. The parents of Bryan Steinhauer, who authorities said was assaulted by Miladin Kovačević in Binghamton, said their son was slowly emerging from a coma. The 6-foot-9, 260-pound Kovačević and two other men were arrested on assault charges after Steinhauer was nearly beaten to death. Steinhauer’s parents said their son was repeatedly kicked in the head while he lay bleeding on the floor and suffered multiple skull fractures. Serbia, for its part, refuses to send Kovačević to the United States for his trials because “Serbia is a sovereign and democratic country with an independent judiciary,” said Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić.
Beating at Upstate N.Y. Bar Strains Relations Between U.S., Serbia (by Karen Matthews, Associated Press)
Serbia Will Not Extradite Student Wanted in US (by Dušan Stojanović, Associated Press)

Serbs Attacks US Embassy over Kosovo
Angry Serbs protesting Kosovo’s independence in February 2008 stormed the US Embassy in Belgrade and set its facade on fire. Police eventually drove off the protesters, and firefighters brought the blaze under control. No one at the embassy was injured. An estimated 150,000 Serbs marched through the city center and prayed with leaders of the Christian Orthodox Church to lament the loss of Kosovo, until this week Serbia’s southernmost province and a cherished site of the country’s religious heritage. But groups of young, masked Serbs broke off from the main demonstration and began attacking Western embassies. They torched cars and rampaged through city streets. Chanting for Americans to go home, they ended up at the US Embassy and broke through or scaled the protective gates and set part of the building on fire. One protester climbed up to the first floor of an embassy building, ripped the American flag off its pole and briefly put up a Serbian flag in its place.
Serbs protesting Kosovo split storm U.S. Embassy in Belgrade (by Zoran Ćirjaković, Los Angeles Times)
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Human Rights

 

According to Human Rights Watch, recent infractions of human rights are connected to the presence of a Roma community in Serbia. On April 3, 2009 47 Roma families were evicted from their homes in Belgrade with only 15 days notice beforehand. The families had nowhere to move and are subsequently living in the streets. Human Rights Watch calls for the Serbian government’s attention to the matter and advocates that they compensate the families for lost or damaged property. Serbia is currently holding the presidency of the Roma Decade of Inclusion, an initiative of European governments to address the situation of the Roma population. This role, therefore, means that Serbia is “obliged under international law to protect people from forced eviction.” 
 
According to the State Department, the Belgrade special court for organized crime concluded the trial of 12 suspects, including former secret police special unit (JSO) commander Milorad Ulemek and his deputy Zvezdan Jovanović, in the 2003 assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić. In June 2006 key witness Zoran Vukojević was killed. The court found all 12 suspects guilty of conspiracy against the constitutional order and security of the state, assassination of a high state official, and attempted murder (for an earlier assassination attempt). Ulemek and Jovanović each received the maximum sentence of 40 years in prison. The other defendants received sentences ranging from the minimum of eight years to 35 years in prison. Special Prosecutor Slobodan Radovanović stated that he would appeal the lower sentences. Ulemek and Jovanović’s lawyers announced that they would appeal the verdict.
 
In June the Supreme Court upheld its 2006 confirmation of the conviction of Ulemek and others for the 2000 killing of former Serbian president Ivan Stambolić. This ruling exhausted the defendants’ appeal process and was the country’s first final verdict in a high-profile organized crime case.
 
The government continued its investigation into the disappearance and subsequent killing of Yili, Mehmet, and Agron Bytyqi in 1999, three US citizen brothers. In 2001, their bodies were discovered with hands bound and gunshot wounds to their heads in 2001 in a mass grave in Petrovo Selo. The special war crimes court continued the trial of Sreten Popović and Miloš Stojanović, two former members of a special police unit accused of the killings.
 
The acting prosecutor general announced that he would soon make a decision whether to file indictments in the case of the 1999 killing of journalist Slavko Ćuruvija, owner of the Dnevni Telegraf newspaper and Evropljanin magazine.
 
The trial of eight police officers for the 1999 killing of 48 ethnic Albanians in Suva Reka in Kosovo resumed. Božidar Delić testified for the defense and the trial lasted until the end of 2008.
 
Prison conditions for the 9,400 people incarcerated in 28 facilities vary depending on their location.
This is almost double the capacity for Serbian prisons and 6,500 more people are waiting for prison placement. The prisons are still characterized in some cases by dirty and inhuman conditions in addition to insufficient food and poor healthcare. In 2007, nine inmates committed suicide, sixty-seven attempted suicide, and 215 physically injured themselves in protest.
 
Because the national police force comprises Serbs, Bosniaks, ethnic Hungarians, ethnic Albanians, and ethnic Montenegrins, its effectiveness varies throughout the country. There are reports of corruption and impunity. The interior ministry inspector general's office, subsequently renamed Internal Control, obtained somewhat increased authority to actively investigate abuses in addition to addressing citizens' complaints.
 
There were reports that the government interfered with these freedoms and carried out reprisals against persons who criticized the government. Independent media organizations were generally active and expressed a wide range of views. But some media organizations experienced threats or reprisals for publishing views critical of the government. During the year there was a decrease in criticism of the government in the press. There was increased concern about declining professional and ethical standards and the rise of tabloid journalism. Many reporters lacked professionalism in citing sources and achieving accuracy.
 
Violence against women was a problem, and high levels of domestic violence persisted. Domestic violence is a crime punishable by a prison sentence of six months to 10 years, depending on the seriousness of the offense, and a minimum of 10 years if death results. Cases of rape, including spousal rape, is punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Such cases were difficult to prosecute due to lack of witnesses and evidence and unwillingness of witnesses or victims to testify. A report by Romani NGOs found that “of the half of the respondents who would discuss domestic violence, over 75 percent reported experiencing verbal or physical abuse. The respondents said that police did not act to protect them and that they were excluded from some state-funded safe houses.” The Serbian Victimology Society reported in 2006 that “one-third of women have been victims of physical violence and half of women have been victims of psychological violence.” Because these cases are often undocumented, they are prone to be long-lasting.
 
Serbia’s minister for labor and social policy, Rasim Ljajić, stated that 155,000 children live in poverty and 161,000 receive some kind of social assistance. The government documented 1,640 cases of neglect in 2007. 
 

Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International

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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

 

Note: On May 21, 1992, the United States announced that it did not recognize the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was composed of the Republics of Serbia and Montenegro, as a successor state of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
 
Richard M. Miles
Arrived at post Aug 2, 1996.
Termination of Mission: Embassy Belgrade was closed Mar 23, 1999. Miles and the last Embassy personnel left Mar 24, and NATO armed forces began military action against Serbia-Montenegro that evening.
 
William Dale Montgomery
Appointment: Nov 26, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Jan 4, 2002
Termination of Mission: Feb 29, 2004
Note: Originally commissioned to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; continued to serve after country's name was changed to Serbia and Montenegro Feb 4, 2003.
 
Michael Christian Polt
Appointment: May 12, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: May 21, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 3, 2007
Note: The United States recognized the Republic of Montenegro, Jun 13, 2006.

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Serbia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Petrović, Vladimir

 

Born in Kragujevac, Vladimir Petrović completed his high school and elementary education in Belgrade. For college he went to Georgia State University where he earned his Bachelor in Arts degree in Political Science.
 
Until 2002, Petrović worked for companies in Atlanta, Georgia. These companies include CARE-USA a humanitarian organization aimed at fighting global poverty, the American law firms of Pope, McGlamry, Kilpatrick & Morrison LLP, and Gray, Rust, St. Amand, Moffett & Brieske. In 2002 he was part of the Joseph Moore for Alderman Campaign in Chicago, Illinois. He was also the field director for David Fink’s congressional campaign. 
 
In 2004 he became the Deputy Director of Illinois Trade Office where he fundraised and was involved in numerous campaigns.
 
Petrović returned to Serbia in 2007 to be a part of the newly elected government. He was chosen to be Minister Counselor in the Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs. On August 20, 2007, he became the Minister Counselor and the Deputy Chief of Mission to the Embassy of Serbia in Washington, DC. He served as Chargé d’Affaires until February 2009 when he was appointed Serbia’s Ambassador of the to the United States.
 
Vladimir Petrović’s Official Biography

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Serbia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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Comments

Elena 2 years ago
Russian Jews in Israel tend to be sympathetic to Serbs, and they are a pourfewl voting block.In terms of Israel following US policy, many cynically say that it is the opposite. I jest, of course, since there really isn't much separating the two countries. Israel did supply precision bombs to the US when they started running out during the unanticipatedly long US bombing campaign against Serbia in 1999. That was a very bad move on the part of Israel, and there has been some active covering up going on about that fact.
sandy giordano 5 years ago
please help me find information on doljane and the medich family for genealogy.
sandy (medich) giordano 5 years ago
please find updated info on doljane for me
sandy (medich) giordano 7 years ago
I am tracing my family history in Serbia, and my ghedo was born in Doljane,a small settlement of Krusevac, and I don't want wikipedia info, I need info about his family, he left there in 1905 and emigrated to the US, can you help, I'm at a dead end? hvala!

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U.S. Ambassador to Serbia

Kirby, Michael
ambassador-image

A career diplomat who has served mainly in Eastern Europe is President Obama’s nominee to be the next ambassador to Serbia, the Balkan nation with which the U.S. has had sometimes tense relations since the breakup of Yugoslavia began in the early 1990s. One of four children born to parents Richard N. and Dolores (Senkfor) Kirby, Michael David Kirby was born circa 1954. He was likely inspired to pursue a Foreign Service career by the example of his father, a Foreign Service officer who, among other postings, was consul general in Hong Kong in 1963.

 

Michael Kirby earned a B.A. in History at the University of Pennsylvania in 1976 and then studied at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. A career consular officer who joined the Foreign Service circa 1979, Kirby served early career assignments at the U.S. embassies in Copenhagen, Denmark; Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and Georgetown, Guyana; and at State Department Headquarters as a desk officer in the Office of Caribbean Affairs. In Tanzania and Guyana, Kirby served as vice consul.

 

Continuing on that career path, Kirby served as consul at the Consulate General in Krakow, Poland, from 1988 to 1991, and as regional consular officer at the Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany, from 1996 to 1998, supervising consular operations at U.S. embassies in the countries of the former Soviet Union except Russia.

 

 Returning stateside, he served as director of the Office of Intelligence Coordination at the State Department from 1999 to 2001. Back overseas, Kirby was consul general at the embassy in Warsaw from 2001 to 2004, and consul general at the embassy in Seoul, South Korea, the State Department’s largest non-immigrant visa post, from 2004 to 2006.

 

Kirby was then appointed to his first ambassadorship in September 2006, serving as ambassador at the embassy in Chişinău, Moldova, from September 2006 to May 2008. He became the principal deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs in June 2008, when he almost immediately confronted with the embarrassing revelation that some State Department employees had been improperly accessing the passport files of various celebrities. More recently, in June 2010, Kirby was involved in the decision to recognize gender change on U.S. passports.

 

Michael Kirby is married to Sara Powelson Kirby and has two daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth.

-Matt Bewig

 

Official Biography

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Serbia

Munter, Cameron
ambassador-image

With the war in Afghanistan spilling over into Pakistan, where the CIA has launched numerous drone attacks on insurgents, the Obama administration selected Cameron Munter, a veteran diplomat with experience in Iraq, to run the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. Munter also is used to working in countries undergoing some kind of political transition, although all of those previous assignments took place in Europe. Munter was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Pakistan on October 6, 2010. 

 
The son of Helen-Jeanne and Leonard Munter, Cameron Munter was born in Claremont, California, in 1954. Munter attended Claremont High School, where he distinguished himself as a distance runner on the cross country and track teams. His college education took place at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and the universities in Freiburg and Marburg in Germany. He received a doctoral degree in modern European history in 1983 from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. 
 
Munter began his career as a college professor, teaching European history at the University of California, Los Angeles from 1982-1984. He directed European studies at the Twentieth Century Fund in New York (1984-1985) before joining the Foreign Service.
 
His first overseas assignment took him to Warsaw, Poland (1986-1988). He returned to Washington, DC, in 1988 to serve as a staff assistant in the State Department’s Bureau of European Affairs and then as country director for Czechoslovakia. In 1991, he was a Dean Rusk Fellow at Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.
 
The following year he was sent to Prague in the Czech Republic, serving there until 1995. It was then onto Bonn, Germany (1995-1997), before becoming chief of staff in the NATO Enlargement Ratification Office.
 
In 1998, Munter was director of the Northern European Initiative and then executive assistant to the counselor of the State Department (1998-1999). He served as director for Central Europe at the National Security Council until 2001.
 
Beginning in 2002, Munter began taking on larger roles in U.S. embassies, first as deputy chief of mission in Warsaw until 2005 and then in Prague from 2005 to 2007.
 
In 2006, he led the first Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul, Iraq.
 
His first ambassador assignment was in Belgrade, Serbia, from 2007 to 2009. The posting was not without difficulties, as Serbian rioters upset over the American position on Kosovo, set fire to the embassy in 2008. The protests sparked a strong response from Munter, who warned the Serbian government not to allow any more attacks on the diplomatic mission.
 
He returned to Iraq in 2009, this time at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. He served as political-military minister-counselor, then as deputy chief of mission for the first half of 2010, directing strategic planning and American civil-military coordination during the military pullout.
 
Munter’s wife, Marilyn Wyatt, is the author of A Handbook of NGO Governance. She has served as Director of Communications at the Aspen Institute and Director of Global Programs as BoardSource. The couple has a son, Daniel, and a daughter, Anna.
 
Official Biography (State Department)
Cameron Munter ‘New US Ambassador’ (by Baqir Sajjad Syed, Dawn.com)

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