US Envoy urges Kosovo to drop tariffs, resume dialogue with Serbia

US Envoy urges Kosovo to drop tariffs, resume dialogue with Serbia

U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy on the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Richard Grenell, arrived late on Wednesday in Kosovo and urged the country’s leaders to resume the dialogue with Serbia.

After meeting Kosovo president at a restaurants of Pristina, Grenell said he wants to see progress in both Kosovo and Serbia on the economic front. “We are going to push both governments and the leaders of Kosovo and Serbia and say ‘look at the people, start moving forward with jobs’”, he said. Grenell, who is U.S. Ambassador to Germany, was appointed by Trump as the special envoy for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue in October 2019.

Kosovo president Hashim Thaci after dinner with Grenell said in a Tweet that he had a fruitful meeting with the U.S. envoy to discuss the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia. “Thanked him for a timely visit and his determination in the process. Stressed urgency of resumption of dialogue and that the role of US President Donald Trump on reaching a final agreement is indispensable”, Thaci wrote. Grenell answered Thaci’s tweet by writing: “We must make progress – which includes dropping the tariffs”.

Grenell arrived in Kosovo as part of the efforts to resume the dialogue between Pristina and Belgrade, which was halted in November 2018 after the Kosovo Government introduced tariffs on all Serbian imports as a measure to counter Serbia’s aggressive campaign against Kosovo’s statehood. Serbia has conditioned the resumption of the EU-facilitated talks in Brussels with the revocation of the 100 percent tax on its goods.

Grenell on Thursday is expected to also meet with political leaders, including leaders of Vetevendosje Albin Kurti and LDK Isa Mustafa who are negotiating a deal to form a new coalition government after October’s election. Grenell stated on Wednesday night that he has no preferences on a Kosovo coalition, but his meetings are seen in Kosovo as crucial in convincing the two biggest parties to reach a deal.

After Pristina, Grenell is expected to visit Belgrade as part of his efforts to boost the dialogue. Grenell was at the center of a EU-brokered deal between Kosovo and Serbia on the relaunch of commercial flights between the capitals of both countries after more than 20 years./ibna