House Judiciary Chair, Republican Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is leading a 15-member delegation on an urgent mission to Greece, Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Italy as evidence mounts that Obama-era favoritism continues — to the detriment of citizens, local institutions, and regional stability.
The Congressional Delegation (known as a codel) departed Saturday for a ten-day investigation during the congressional recess.
A House Judiciary communications staffer refused to comment citing security concerns.
Although six of the nine members traveling are Republicans — including conservatives such as Steve King (IA) and Tom Marino (PA) — the nature of Congressional foreign travel makes a codel dependent on the State Department; in this case, Ambassadors in each country are Obama administration holdovers who continue to implement inherited policies.
It’s hard to imagine the delegation getting unbiased information from embassies that have been highly interventionist in local politics according to significant communities in each country.
General Prosecutor vs. Embassy Tirana
A nasty stand-off emerged this year between Albania’s Office of the Chief Prosecutor, a politically neutral national entity, and Chinese-American Ambassador Donald Lu.
“Prime Minister Edi Rama, backed by the U.S. Ambassador, has destroyed the independence of our judiciary,” declared a prosecutor speaking from Tirana by phone to The American Spectator. “Under the banner of judicial reform, they are succeeding to politicize it.”
Edi Rama, longtime leader of the Socialist Party, is a close friend of George Soros, whose network is deeply involved in Albania, partnering with the U.S. Embassy on numerous projects, including an $8.8-million USAID project on…you guessed it, judicial reform.
“When we expressed any professional opinions different from the U.S. Embassy — professional opinions on different approaches, Lu got angry,” said the prosecutor, unwilling to be named. She explained the European Union’s Venice Commission, designed to help vet reform proposals for compliance with European law, often sided with the Albanian prosecutors in these technical disputes.
The prosecutor added, her office tried to prioritize drug trafficking and criminality, major issues in Albania, while the U.S. embassy dismissed massive cannabis cultivation and export as “not a U.S. problem.” Divergent priorities held by Albanian legal authorities and the U.S. embassy is confirmed by independent news site Exit.al.
Donald Lu punished the prosecutors and judges who disagreed with him by revoking U.S. visas, already granted, to some 70 judges and prosecutors according to Chief Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla.
In response, Llalla blasted Ambassador Lu, accusing him of manipulation and blackmail, in a scathing letter posted on the office’s website and in a press conference February.
Llalla also accused Lu of trying to prevent his office from investigating corrupt practices by a major Chinese-owned firm, Bankers Petroleum.
As a Washington Times headline on this conflict summarized three months ago, “Soros-infected State Department Plays Games in Albania.”
Political Crisis in Macedonia
Not satisfied to mismanage his own country, Edi Rama has reached into neighboring Macedonia, provoking profound instability in an aggressive effort to help fellow socialists — and fellow Muslim Albanians.
The U.S. Embassy is widely considered to be siding with the socialist party in Macedonia as it does in Albania.
Rama convened a meeting of three Macedonian-Albanian political parties (some 15-20% of Macedonia is ethnic Albanian) and drafted the so-called “Tirana Platform,” a dangerously separatist document threatening Macedonia’s very identity.
These Albanian parties then entered into coalition with the Macedonian socialists and are demanding the right to form a new government — against the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, which has, until the current crisis, managed the most successful free-market economy in the Balkans.
Across the country, Macedonians are protesting en masse against the Tirana Platform and against Ambassador Jess Baily, considered biased against VMRO. Most recently, conflict erupted inside the parliament.
Again, most local officials have different priorities than the embassy: Macedonians have suffered centuries of incursions from neighbors. They are mostly concerned about security, while the Americans are feeding ginned-up NGOs money for “mobilization” and “activism.”
As Macedonian-American leader Bill Nicholov wrote in late April, “The US State Department and US Embassy in Macedonia are… meddling in Macedonia’s internal affairs, and it has wreaked havoc and perpetuated attacks on Macedonians’ ethnic origin and sovereignty.”
Nicholov begs President Trump to reverse course in the small country, north of Greece.
Crisis on Top of Crisis in Greece
Exactly as in Albania and Macedonia, the U.S. Government openly supports a youngish left-wing leader in Greece who implements polarizing policies as prime minister and head of the Syriza party (a left-wing coalition of radical parties).
On his final European tour, President Barack Obama visited Athens to see left-wing Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras, cooing to the perpetually tieless, ersatz Marxist that the U.S. thoroughly agrees: multilateral lending institutions should be kinder to his government.
Obama was as solicitous and protective of Tsipras as Bill Clinton was when the prime minister visited New York to attend a Clinton Global Initiative thing in September 2015.
Yet, Syriza’s immediate liberalization of immigration policy when it took power in 2015 is the single most important factor in the out-of-control refugee crisis that has overwhelmed, and endangered, Europe.
Within months of taking power, a Syriza minister announced the government would turn refugee detention facilities into welcome centers, and would discontinue an aggressive policy of identifying and deporting illegal migrants.
In the four months following the government’s April 2015 declaration that all Syrian refugees would receive documents for onward travel to Europe, arrivals increased 721%.
Even now, migrants continue to arrive from Turkey — to a country that still hasn’t got its financial house in order.
Can the U.S. Ambassador be trusted to brief Rep. Goodlatte’s codel on the disastrous cluster of crises besetting Greece?
Probably not. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt was posted to Athens last year following a three-year assignment in Kiev where he was widely considered a toady to those promoting a coup d’état, including George Soros.
Pyatt is best known, perhaps, for being on the receiver end of Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland’s infamous “F — k Europe!” phone call.
Although Nuland resigned after President Donald Trump’s election, her #2, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Hoyt Brian Yee, remains large and in charge of State Department policy in the Balkans.
He continues to travel often in the Balkans although just a few weeks ago, the Macedonian president refused to meet with him, so upset is he with American manipulation in his country.
Yee was more enthusiastically welcomed by officials in Kosovo, where American pressure — and a bombing campaign — is credited with creating the small nation of 1.8 million people. (Balkan war reporter Masha Gessen makes a strong case that NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999 without consulting Russia, created a precedent for Russia’s intervention in Crimea in the mind of the Russian government.)
Yet even in Kosovo, local officials are bridling at U.S. directives, which seem to be consistently acted out in public rather than discreetly or diplomatically.
For example, Yee went to Pristina in late March to order national leaders, contemplating a decision to turn the nation’s security force into a formal army, to “take the law off the table.”
If the U.S. didn’t want Pristina to create an army, why the hell have we been training and encouraging them for years?
It’s easy for U.S. Ambassador Greg Delawie to post awkward videos on YouTube in which he juggles like a clown while discussing anti-corruption projects, but security is no joke for the people who live in the Balkans.
Bungling in Bosnia
Another U.S. Ambassador who appears to prefer amateurish #hashtag diplomacy via social media, and public scuffles with national-level officials, is U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina Maureen Cormack — another country the U.S. helped create where U.S. taxpayers have been billed $1.6 billion in foreign aid.
Within a week of arriving in country in 2015 she posted a blog taking on Bosnia’s education curriculum, accusing it of being discriminatory and ethnically divisive.
Excuse me, Ambassador Cormack, but the U.S. Government created a nation premised on ethnic division in the Dayton Accords so… welcome to your post.
This year, her escalating pissing match with Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, president of the autonomous Serb region, Republika Srpska — a problematic republic-within-a-country arrangement — reached new heights: she had the U.S. Treasury slap the president with sanctions for celebrating an Orthodox Serb holiday on January 9, St. Stephens Day. In response, he declared her “an enemy of the Serbs, [who] is not welcome to the Serb Republic.”
Overall, Obama-era ambassadors have managed to stoke ethnic tension (especially in Macedonia and Bosnia), promoting political favorites carried over from the past — primarily socialists and members of the George Soros network (Albania, Greece, Macedonia) — while alienating officials who feel they know what’s best for their own country (Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia).
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced last week the United States will no longer mandate that other countries adopt U.S. values.
Our embassies in the Balkans clearly haven’t gotten the memo.
(Our series, “Soros in the Balkans Under the American Flag,” will continue.)
Correction: Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) was incorrectly listed above as a member of the congressional delegation currently in the Balkans.