Philip H. Gordon
U.S. assistant secretary for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs Philip H. Gordon stated that “the political and economic integration of southeastern Europe within the rest of the continent is the key to regional stabilization and development in the years ahead,” in a lecture organized by the Kokkalis Program at Harvard and held on February 17th 2010 at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Stating at the opening of his lecture “[…] I am here […] to talk about the Obama administration’s approach to southeastern Europe, which I think is based on very much the same goals as the Kokkalis Program, which is to say, the integration of this part of Europe into Europe as a whole,” Gordon admitted that attempts to incorporate southeastern Europe into Euro-Atlantic organizations had been “difficult in the past.” But he emphasized that the Obama administration would try to finish “the historic project of trying to bring democracy to the whole of Europe.”
The assistant secretary addressed political, social, and economic concerns relating to a variety of Balkan states, including Serbia and Turkey. “We have a vision of a peaceful and stable Europe that will extend to Turkey and the Caucasus,” he said. “The solution lies in transnational cooperation and institutions that guarantee the rights of citizens, promote economic freedom, insure the viability of the border, and provide a reliable forum for the peaceful resolution of disputes.”
Gordon pointed to the critical importance of regional and international institutions in this effort – specifically NATO and the European Union. “The opportunity for political engagement that crosses national borders reduces the salience and pressure of ethnic and regional disputes within countries. That is the promise of the project of European integration,” Gordon contended.
Referring to Serbian interests, Gordon stated “The door to NATO membership is open,” and “I certainly believe … that with pragmatism and goodwill on both sides, U.S.-Serbian relations could be a model of a productive partnership by the end of the administration’s first term,” Gordon said. “This change in the Balkans is a reminder not only of what can be possible, but also what remains to be done” elsewhere.
Gordon also pointed to the critical roles that Greece and Turkey will play in helping stabilize southeastern Europe, arguing that “regional political leadership and courage and vision is necessary for progress.”
Harvard Kennedy School Magazine