Trump renews calls for Serbia and Kosovo to normalize relations

Aleksandar Vucic, Donald Trump, hashim Thaci (Left to right)
Aleksandar Vucic, Donald Trump, hashim Thaci (Left to right)

Prishtina, Kosovo |  15 Feb 2019 (Tirana Echo) – US President Donald Trump has renewed his calls to Belgrade and Prishtina to normalize relations and agree to a final bilateral deal which will include the formal recognition of Kosovo’s independence by Serbia.

In fresh letters sent to the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and to the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi, US President Trump urged both leaders to rise to the challenge and finalize a bilateral agreement, with ‘mutual recognition’ as a core element of the deal.

Writing to President Vučić on Serbia’s Statehood Day on the 15 February, President Trump said:

The United States remains firm in its support to your commitment to deepen regional cooperation, and particularly to your determination to normalize the relations with Kosovo. We believe that the mutual recognition should be the central element of that normalization”.

Trump noted that “such an historic agreement” would pave the way for the goals of European integration of Serbia and further economic growth for the Balkan nation.

In a parallel letter, President Trump congratulated President Thaçi on the 11th anniversary of Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence (17 February), and urged him to continue working towards a mutual historic agreement which would end up with Kosovo’s recognition by Serbia, while asking the people of Kosovo to focus on the development of democracy, rule of law, economic and business opportunities.

In a previous letter sent earlier in December, Trump had told both Vučić and Thaci that the United States would welcome the signing of an historic deal between Kosovo and Serbia in Washington, signaling a swift turn in the deadlocked Prishtina-Belgrade EU mediated peace talks which have failed to produce any tangible results in the past months.

Trump said both Kosovo and Serbia should make use of this unique chance of reconciliation, referring to the latest efforts by both Kosovan and Serbian leaders to reach a deal between the two countries, which may include a controversial plan to swap territories between the two Balkan nations.

Following the suggestions of a territorial exchange back in August, White House national-security adviser John Bolton saidThe United States will not oppose a possible exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia as long as both Prishtina and Belgrade agree to a ‘mutually satisfactory settlement’.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 and hopes to join NATO and the European Union in the future. However, the new country is not recognized by Russia, China, Serbia and 5 other EU member states  which fear dissidence with their own regions wishing to break away.

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