The new ambassador from Serbia is a former Democratic Party activist from President Obama‘s home state, which puts him in a good position politically to mend relations between his native country and the United States.
Vladimir Petrovic, who was born and reared in Serbia, was due to present his diplomatic credentials to Mr. Obama on Wednesday, just as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was expected in Belgrade on the highest-level U.S. visit in nearly 30 years.
Serbia-U.S. relations were strained over the U.S. recognition of the independence of the Albanian enclave of Kosovo last year. Many Serbs also hold a lingering resentment over the U.S. and NATO bombing of Serbia during the Kosovo war in 1999.
The Serbian government was looking for a new ambassador with the change of U.S. presidential administrations and chose Mr. Petrovic, with his political connections, said a Serbian source who asked not to be identified because Serbian diplomats are not authorized to talk to the press.
Mr. Petrovic, who has served at the Serbian Embassy in Washington since 2007, worked as a fundraiser for Mr. Obama’s Senate campaign in 2004.
Earlier, he worked on the Illinois campaigns of Joseph Moore for the Chicago City Council and Joseph Mario Moreno for Cicero Town president.
Before working on Mr. Obama’s campaign, Mr. Petrovic was deputy political director and consultant for ethnic outreach for Blair Hull, who ran against Mr. Obama for the Democratic senatorial nomination. Mr. Hull dropped out of the primary over allegations that he had abused his ex-wife when they were married.
Mr. Petrovic also served on Democratic political campaigns in Michigan for Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm and Sen. Carl Levin and on the unsuccessful House race of lawyer David Fink in 2002.
Mr. Petrovic returned to Serbia in 2007 to work in the Foreign Ministry and was dispatched to Washington later that year as minister-counselor and deputy chief of mission at the Serbian Embassy.
He served as charge d’affaires from February 2008, when Serbia recalled Ambassador Ivan Vujacic to protest the U.S. recognition of Kosovo, until October, when Mr. Vujacic returned.
MURPHY TO GERMANY
President Obama plans to appoint Philip D. Murphy, former national finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, as ambassador to Germany, according to a news report from Berlin.
Mr. Murphy, 52, is a former investment banker with Goldman Sachs, which is trying to repay about $10 billion in federal bailout money. Mr. Murphy left the firm in 2006 to join the DNC.
Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine this week reported that Mr. Murphy is at the top of the list to replace William R. Timken Jr., ambassador in Berlin under President Bush.
The post has been vacant since December, when Mr. Timken resigned as part of the transition to the Obama administration.
The magazine quoted a source identified only as a high-level U.S. official as telling German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier: “It’s going to be Murphy.”
As an investment banker, Mr. Murphy directed the German region for Goldman Sachs in the 1990s and is expected to draw on many contacts he made in Germany.
“Murphy was engaged in the German-American relationship for many years - a good choice,” John Kornblum, a retired Foreign Service officer who served as U.S. ambassador in Berlin from 1997 to 2001, told Der Spiegel.
• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.