Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci; Photo: European Forum Alpbach/Andrei Pungovschi.

‘Constructive’ meeting between Thaci and Vucic at the White House

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci met with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic at the White House on Monday to discuss what he has described as “the possibility of reaching a final agreement between the two countries.”

Kosovo President Hashim Thaci announced on Monday night that he had met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at the White House at the invitation of US Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, Richard Grenell. According to Thaci, US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien was also present at the meeting.

Thaci told Radio Free Europe that “the necessity of a peaceful resolution of Kosovo-Serbia issues” and “the possibility of reaching a final agreement” were discussed at the meeting, which he described as “fair and constructive.”

Addressing the currently suspended dialogue with Serbia, Thaci stated that there was “good will” among both parties to move things forward. The president added that a conclusion to the dialogue should come “as soon as possible, with a final agreement, which implies nothing more or less than mutual recognition, under the current territorial integrity.”

“We have no time to lose, and we certainly have to work closely with our partners,” Thaci told Radio Free Europe, adding that he lacks confidence in the ability of the EU to facilitate the provision of a final agreement. “We now have an offer from Washington and we must move forward.”

The EU-mediated dialogue between the two states is currently suspended due to Serbia’s objection to the 100 per cent customs tariff on goods entering Kosovo from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina installed by the previous Kosovo Government in November 2018. 

On 27 February, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti announced plans to partially remove the tariff on 15 March, and completely suspend it for 90 days from 1 April if Serbia made a public pledge to end its campaign encouraging states to withdraw recognition of Kosovo as an independent state.

The plans were criticised as a “half measure” by Grenell, who stated that the proposal was not supported by the US. However, the proposal was welcomed by EU officials, who expressed hope that this would open the path to resumption of the dialogue. An extraordinary session of the Kosovo Assembly was held on Monday to discuss the tariffs. 

Thaci has said that he expects to be able to report to the Kosovo Assembly on Monday’s meeting on either Wednesday or Thursday. “By uniting institutions, political parties and citizens, Kosovo will be even stronger,” his Facebook post from Monday evening states.

At the extraordinary session on Monday, Kurti stated that he was waiting for Thaci to return from the US in order to be able to have an open discussion on foreign policy to unify Kosovo’s position. The prime minister invited Thaci to a meeting on February 13 with the aim of harmonising foreign policy stances prior to the Munich Security Forum, which the president declined.

On Monday, Kurti also made public a letter his office sent to US President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in which he stated the government would take “full and exclusive charge” of the dialogue process with Serbia. 

03/03/2020 - 11:32


03 March 2020 - 11:32

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