“The United States is stepping up its engagement in the Western Balkans, US Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell told a Senate hearing on US policy in Europe.

”Through active U.S. diplomacy and close coordination with the EU, we supported the visionary leaders Prime Minister Tsipras and Prime Minister Zaev in achieving a potentially historic breakthrough in the Greece-Macedonia name dispute. We have stepped up communication with both Serbia and Kosovo. And we are promoting reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina,’ Mitchell said in his address to the members of the Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, the Senate Foreign Policy Committee.

Mitchell said he was worried about the ongoing protests in Greece and Macedoniaand the potential Russian interference after resolving a decade-long name dispute between the two countries.

‘I am worried about the protests and potential Russian interference that we saw in Montenegro, Russian predecessors have put forward the threats and I think that there is a chance that the Russians try to interfere in Macedonia. We are working on strengthening Macedonian institutions, we have excellent security cooperation. We also expect the formal procedures in Greece and Macedonia to be completed and that NATO will send a call for membership to Northern Macedonia at the July summit. We hope that the EU will open membership negotiations, although it is now less likely than with NATO. We are in daily contact with the EU, especially France, which has certain reserves, but I am an optimist, and I expect that this will affect the entire region.'” (translated from VoA, Mitchell’s full statement here, video of hearing here)