Clinton and the Tri-Presidency

Last night, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Sarajevo, the first stop on a trip that will take her from Bosnia to Serbia and Kosovo. She’ll focus on Washington’s expressed commitment to EU membership for the Balkan states as well as NATO membership for Bosnia. Clinton is expected to finish out the week in Brussels, meeting with top EU and NATO along with Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

She spent her time today with Bosnian leaders and school students, her visit coming just a week after elections further divided the country which is ruled by a shaky tri-presidency. At a town-hall meeting, she stressed the need for unity, drawing a comparison between her race with now-President Obama and the situation in the Balkans. Clinton commented that she’s often asked how she could work for Obama after they both competed for the top spot, to which she said, “the answer is simple. We both love our country. That has to be the mindset here.” Unfortunately, as a student in the audience pointed out, “politicians [in Bosnia] often prefer other countries more than our state.” He was referring to Milorad Dodik, a nationalist Bosnian Serb who is now part of the tri-presidency.

One thing Clinton is steering clear of is the midterm-election brouhaha back at home, even though her husband, former President Bill Clinton is out on the campaign trail. The secretary of state said, “I am not in any way involved in any of the political campaigns that are going on up to this midterm election.”

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Gates is pushing onward in Asia. He’s encouraged by what seems like movement to find some resolution to territorial disputes going on in the South China Sea. He applauded a “multilateralist approach” to develop a maritime code of conduct to help keep a lid on disputes. And today he reiterated that Washington has a vested interest in making sure that shipping lanes remain open.