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Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried has urged Kosovo and Serbia to reengage in the EU-mediated dialogue centered on mutual recognition, stressing that the status quo is unsustainable.
Donfriend started her Western Balkans tour from Kosovo on Monday, where she had meetings with Prime Minister Albin Kurti and President Vjosa Osmani.
The current situation hinders the two countries’ EU integration, she said, therefore benefiting Russia’s attempts to undermine democratic consolidation in the Western Balkans.
“The best way to counteract the Kremlin’s efforts to destabilize the region is simple, Kosovo and Serbia must come together and urgently reengage in the EU-facilitated Dialogue with robust US support,” Donfried said. “Our goal is your goal, it is an agreement that normalizes relations centered on mutual recognition. Urgent, creative, and flexible engagement, and sincere good faith effort by both Kosovo and Serbia would be the lasting benefits for all citizens, including economic growth and long-term stability,” she added in their press statement with Kurti.
Kosovo and Serbia have been engaged in a dialogue for the so-called normalization of relations since 2011, which has yielded poor results despite some 33 agreement signed but implemented partially and only selectively. The thorny issue of mutual recognition, vehemently opposed by Serbia, has never been on the dialogue table.
Kurti asked for US support for Kosovo’s NATO and EU membership, noting that only integration of all Western Balkan countries’ in such organizations would secure peace and stability in the region. Donfried reiterated her country’s support, and assured Kosovo people of the full US support for security in the region during the tumultuous times related to the Russian aggression against Ukraine.
President Osmani assured Donfried of Kosovo’s dedication for a solution in the dialogue with Serbia that would result in mutual recognition. She added that her country’s relations with international allies and partners should not be conditioned by this dialogue.
Osmani reminded the US diplomat of Serbia’s refusal to dissolve illegal structures in Kosovo’s north, which are led by people sanctioned by the US government.
Donfried is visiting the six countries of the Western Balkans this week amidst increasing concerns over possible negative effects of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in the region. Kosovo police were attacked for the fifth time in a few days near the border with Serbia during her visit.
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