America has influence, America has priority - the problem of Serbia and Kosovo
One of top US priorities with a significant impact on the entire region and transatlantic security is normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations, Palmer saysSource: Tanjug
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and US Special Representative for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, said in a testimony before the US Senate Foreign Affairs and Subcommittee on Europe and Co-operation on Regional Security that while the negotiations are blocked, the two sides are at risk of missing the best chance.
He added that by reaching an agreement, the two sides can unleash economic potential through peace and integration.
Palmer also said that the US expects the new government in Pristina to abolish taxes on Serbian goods, and that Belgrade suspends its campaign in the world for Kosovo's derecognition.
"We expect the new Kosovo government to demonstrate its commitment to these common goals by suspending fees imposed on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina that have harmed Kosovo's international position. The next government should also make clear to the citizens of Kosovo the importance of returning to dialogue and negotiations", US official stated.
Palmer added that "Serbia, for its part, must cease its campaign to delegitimize Kosovo in the international community."
"Through a campaign to encourage countries to withdraw recognition of Kosovo and by blocking its membership in international organizations such as Interpol, Belgrade has harmed international police co-operation and disrupted the atmosphere of compromise", Palmer said.
He added that this impedes progress towards an agreement that Serbia needs in order to achieve its strategic goal - EU integration.
"We are convinced that President Aleksandar Vucic is ready to negotiate such an agreement. Once Serbia and Kosovo have taken such steps, we are ready to explore with him all the options that will help him gain support of the people of Serbia to normalize relations with Kosovo", Palmer concluded.
Palmer added that because of the strategic importance of the issue and the historic and limited space for Serbia and Kosovo to reach a comprehensive agreement, President (Donald) Trump also appointed US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as Special Presidential Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina negotiations.
"Together, Ambassador Grenell and I will work to help the two parties reach a comprehensive normalization agreement. With increased political engagement, as well as through business and trade incentives, we will seek to help the parties find a locally sustainable agreement that is lasting, enforceable, contributing further to regional stability”, Palmer concluded.