President Joe Biden says ‘mutual recognition’ key to Kosovo and Serbia talks
President Joe Biden said mutual recognition between Serbia and Kosovo will be at the center of a future peace agreement between the two nations, and normalization of relations with Belgrade will be essential to end the international isolation of Pristina.
In a letter to the new president of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, Biden said the United States will work with his administration on issues of corruption and strengthening the rule of law, as well as on developing the country’s economy. countries and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
But “equally important,” he writes, “[are] efforts to secure a lasting peace through a productive dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and, ultimately, a comprehensive normalization agreement.
“The normalization of relations with Serbia is essential for Kosovo to realize its potential and fully integrate into Euro-Atlantic institutions. I know that achieving this will require flexibility and difficult compromises along the way. . “
Osmani, who was elected president last month after Albin Kurti’s Vetëvendosje movement won a landslide in the February election, shared Biden’s letter on Twitter.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, nine years after Serbia’s invasion of the territory between 1998 and 1999 ended with a NATO bombing campaign. Biden led the efforts of the US Senate to support the NATO intervention, which ended a campaign of ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces.
Serbia, along with Russia and China, still refuses to recognize Kosovo as an independent state and has actively lobbied for other nations to withdraw their support.
The European Union and Washington have both participated in efforts to promote a dialogue between the two countries that could lead to a lasting peace agreement.
In 2020, President Donald Trump invited the leaders of both countries to the White House to sign a normalization agreement that did not include Serbian recognition of Kosovo.
Trump called the deal “historic” and appeared to believe Kosovo and Serbia were still at war in a bizarre Washington press conference, but critics pointed out that the deal was of little substance and left most of the main points of friction between the two. unresolved countries.
Kurti, who presented himself on an anti-corruption platform, did not prioritize Kosovo’s dialogue with Serbia during his campaign. A day after the elections, Kurti told Euronews that any dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia hinged on Belgrade’s recognition of Kosovo, its apologies for the war and the payment of reparations.
These conditions are unlikely to be accepted by the extremist president of Serbia, Aleksander Vucic, whose nationalist base sees Kosovo as a province of Serbia.
In his letter, Biden spoke fondly of his and his family’s close relationship with Kosovo, including that of his late son, Beau Biden, who worked in the capital, Pristina, after the judges were trained at the war. In 2016, Kosovo named a route in honor of Beau Biden, who died of cancer in 2015.