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US Envoy Grenell: No Rush For Kosovo-Serbia Deal

US envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Richard Grenell has refuted speculations that yesterday’s meeting between Hashim Thaci and Alexander Vucic in the White House showed that the US “would like to move quickly to a grand deal”.

Grenell replied on Twitter to journalist Tim Judah’s speculation that the unexpected meeting between Thaci and Vucic showed that Grenell and Trump would like a swift agreement on a grand deal.

“Wrong. You don’t know what you are talking about. No one is trying to move quickly and there is no grand deal. You are making stuff up,” Grenell replied.

Since he was appointed as envoy by President Trump, Grenell has successfully mediated the signing of agreements to reestablish air, railway and road connections between Kosovo and Serbia. On the Kosovo side, these agreements have been pushed by President Hashim Thaci and signed by officials of the previous government. Prime minister Kurti has stated his government will analyze the agreements.

Grenell also urged the current prime minister, Albin Kurti to completely drop tariffs against Serbian goods, with no conditions, when the latter announced his government decision to drop tariffs in two stages within March.

“We do not support Prime Minister Kurti’s half measure. Our position is quite clear: the tariffs must be completely dropped. Mr Kurti is making a serious mistake – and that was made clear to President Thaci at the White House today,” Grenell wrote on Twitter.

Following is the full text of journalist Tim Judah’s speculation regarding what he called a “quick grand deal”:

“We could be approaching a crunch point in Kosovo – Serbia dialogue following the meeting yesterday in DC between Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic. Richard Grenell and Trump people would like to move quickly to a grand deal. Problem is that Thaci is a lame duck president who cannot deliver anything – unless he can lure the LDK to jump ship and bring down Albin Kurti’s government.
Land swap was discussed plus of course instant lifting of tariffs without reciprocity. No Serbian recognition of Kosovo but Serbia would not prevent UN accession and if that is the case then it is not expected Russia (or China) would veto. Not sure that would help with Vucic’s election campaign but still.
No discussion of Association of Serbian Municipalities but then no one will care about Serbs in Kosovo if there is a land swap even if majority remain in Kosovo.
Thaci would like to hurry because his time is trickling to an end and I guess there might be some people in the PDK who want this & an end to Albin Kurti administration before any anti-corruption investigations kick in and even, because if they have reason to fear the Specialist Chambers, then they might hope that cooperating on this with the Americans would give them some measure of protection. I am just speculating of course! Watch this space.”

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