WASHINGTON -- A senior U.S. diplomat is traveling to Central Europe and the Western Balkans to shore up support against what the State Department calls “Russia’s aggression on the region.”
Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan on December 13 will hold talks in Bratislava, Slovakia, and will also visit Vienna, Sofia, Sarajevo, Skopje, and Warsaw on the trip, which will run through December 20.
In Bratislava, Sullivan will “urge senior Slovak officials to use their upcoming chairpersonship of the OSCE to strengthen the organization’s response to Russia’s aggression in Europe,” the State Department said in a statement.
In Vienna, he is expected to thank Austria for its contributions to security cooperation in Afghanistan and the Western Balkans “and will emphasize to senior officials the need to counter Iranian and Russian malign activities,” the statement said.
It added, though, that “notwithstanding continued concerns with Russia’s destabilizing activity,” Sullivan will in Vienna lead a “counterterrorism dialogue with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Oleg Syromolotov, aimed at exploring areas “in which cooperation could benefit the security of the American people and prevent future terrorist attacks.”
On December 16, in Sarajevo, Sullivan will press officials to work to “maintain stability and continue reforms and a path to the West.”
The State Department said Sullivan’s stop in Skopje on December 18 will represent the highest-level U.S. diplomatic visit to Macedonia since 2001.
He will discuss regional issues, including efforts to implement the 2018 Prespa Agreement, under which Macedonia agreed to rename itself North Macedonia in exchange for Athens' promise to stop blocking its entry into NATO and the EU.
Greece has long maintained Macedonia's current name implies a claim on its own northern province of the same name and to Greece's ancient cultural heritage.
In Warsaw on December 19, Sullivan will “reaffirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance,” the State Department said.