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US Foreign Policy in the Western Balkans
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Location Note

1219 International Affairs Building
420 W 118th Street, 12th floor

This is a hybrid (in-person/virtual) event. Registration required for attendance. Please note that all attendees must follow Columbia’s COVID-19 Policies and Guidelines. Columbia University is committed to protecting the health and safety of its community. To that end, all visiting alumni and guests must meet the University requirement of full vaccination status in order to attend in-person events. Vaccination cards may be checked upon entry to all venues. All other attendees may participate virtually on Zoom or YouTube.

Please join the Harriman Institute for a panel discussion on US foreign policy in the Western Balkans with Ambassador Victor JackovichReuf BajrovićErol Avdović, and Tanya Domi.

The United States played key roles in ending the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina by negotiating the Dayton Peace Accords which reset the country from a brutal war that resulted in multiple convictions in genocide that has since eased into an uneasy peace. During the past decade Bosnia has sustained continuous calls for secession by the Bosnian Serb leadership who have worked assiduously to impede Bosnia’s NATO accession and EU enlargement. Now, nearly 30 years later, the current High Representative Christian Schmidt recently imposed controversial electoral laws during Bosnia’s October 2022 elections that will ultimately inflate the numbers of elected Croats to the House of Peoples. Schmidt’s actions were responded to by massive demonstrations by Bosnians outraged by his actions. The US backed Schmidt’s actions, issuing a statement of support, surprising not only Bosnians but international observers, as well. The United States also played a key role in supporting Kosovo’s quest for independence that was declared in 2008 following 77 days of aerial bombing led by the United States. In recent days, the US and the EU have been applying coercive diplomacy to the Kosovo government of Prime Minister Albin Kurti — another turnabout in US foreign policy. More broadly, the US has made a number of overtures of support to Aleksandar Vucic and the Serbian government who is not an ally of the United States and while they have pledged to cooperate with NATO, Serbia has no aspirations to join NATO and become a member of the  Atlantic Security alliance. Indeed, Serbia is arguably the strongest supporter of Russia not only in the Balkans, but across Europe. Why is the US openly supporting proxies to Putin? It appears that the US has foresaken some of its best friends in the Western Balkans. Why? And why now? This panel discussion will examine these questions and more.


Ambassador Victor Jackovich is CEO of Jackovich International, a commercial enterprise founded in 2004 in the United States.  In addition, Victor Jackovich is active in Euro-Atlantic policy associations and has served as senior advisor to American and European companies, including Lockheed Martin (US), Harris (US), General Dynamics (US), RUAG (Switzerland/Germany) and others. Victor Jackovich was an official in the U.S. government for 33 years, including 13 years at the rank of Ambassador.  In 2014, he was named Chairman of the EU-linked Business Advisory Council for Southeast Europe and Eurasia (BACSEE).  In 2016, he was invited to join the Board of the Vienna Economic Forum (VEF) in Austria.  The only American in this association, he is slated to be installed as President of the Vienna Economic Forum in February 2023.  He serves on the Boards of several other institutions in the U.S. and Europe and is a frequent lecturer on international affairs at universities in the U.S. and Europe.


Erol Avdović is an award-winning journalist from Sarajevo. For the last 30 years, he has been a permanent correspondent from the United Nations and the United States for the most prominent media in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Among other things, he was also the chief UN and US correspondent for the Zagreb daily newspapers Vjesnik and Jutarnji list, and a columnist for the Croatian weekly Nacional. He was also a columnist for Oslobođenja, Dnevni avaz and Al-Jazeera Balkans, based in Sarajevo. Avdović was the president of the United Nations Correspondents’ Association (UNCA), elected for two terms, and a long-term member of the UNCA Board of Directors. He is the author of two books: Immitation diary, published in 1988 by Grafos, Belgrade, and Dayton Submarine, published by KAJ, Zagreb, in 1996, an authentic chronicle of the US-brokered peace negotiations at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton (OH), which brought peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is the author of a collection of essays “Last Address – New York”, as well as numerous expert analyses, including those for the Atlantic Initiative (published NATO – Atlantic Initiative for Bosnia and Herzegovina) in Sarajevo, and for the Croatian Diplomatic Society based in Zagreb. Avdović is a member of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian-American Academy of Sciences and Arts (BHAAAS), based in the USA. And, winner of journalistic and professional awards, as well as the “Golden Pen of the Diaspora”, in New York, in 2012. Recently, he was presented with the jubilee Plaque of the VKBI (Council of the Congress of Bosniak Intellectuals), in Sarajevo, in December 2022, for thirty years of journalistic work in the UN- in and the USA.

Reuf Bajrović (@ReufBajrovic) is the Vice President at the US-Europe Alliance in Washington, DC and a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. Previously, he served as president of the Emerging Democracies Institute in Washington, DC, and president of the Civic Alliance political party in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mr. Bajrovic served as the Minister of Energy, Industry and Mining of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he oversaw a portfolio of $2 billion. He has served as consultant and advisor in over a dozen countries to political parties, private foundations and development agencies. Mr. Bajrovic’s op-eds and feature articles have appeared in Die Zeit, The American Interest, Just Security, The National Interest, Haaretz, Tampa Bay Times, El Pais, and other online and print media in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East.  He is a frequent commentator for major international media.


Tanya Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and is an affiliate faculty member of the Harriman Institute where she has taught in the Balkan Studies program since 2008. Prior to her faculty appointment at Columbia, Domi worked as a Congressional aide and military policy advisor to the late Congressman Frank McCloskey, a leading champion for US intervention in the Bosnian war. She also worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender and sexual identity issues and human trafficking. Domi was seconded by the U.S. State Department to the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996 where she served as counsel to former Ambassador Robert Barry. She has since expanded her research to genocide, conflict related sexual violence and the prevention of atrocity crimes.


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