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US Secretary of State to visit Croatia


US Secretary of State to visit Croatia

Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/ EPA-EFE

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with Croatian leaders today to discuss defence cooperation, a budding investment relationship and Western Balkan integration.

The meeting can be contextualised as a continuation of Washington’s increased involvement in the region, exemplified by the recent US-brokered deal normalising economic relations between Serbia and Kosovo. The US aims to facilitate collaboration on infrastructure development projects, including the soon-to-be-completed Trans-Atlantic pipeline, which would bring non-Russian gas exports to a region heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies.

Maintaining a relationship with Croatia is strategically important for the US given Zagreb’s growing influence in the Balkans, demonstrated recently by its involvement in Bosnia-Serbia disputes. Expect the growing US-Croatia partnership to be crucial to Washington’s strategy to gain a greater foothold in the region. The US will likely continue to make gains in southeast Europe, where it has already obtained a Mutual Defence Cooperation Agreement with Greece to assure US naval access in the port of Alexandroupolis. The increased US presence will inevitably incite a response from Russia and Turkey as both continue to strive for regional influence against both each other and NATO in hopes of securing exploration rights in the hotly contested Eastern Mediterranean arena.

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