U.S. and Kosovo flag in Bill Clinto's boulevard in Prishtina. Photo: Atdhe Mulla.

US appoints special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue

The United States Government announced on Thursday evening that US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has been appointed as a special envoy to oversee the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

Richard Grenell, the US’s ambassador to Germany, will become a special US presidential envoy charged with overseeing progress in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, the US Government announced on Thursday.  

Grenell, who has been representing the United States in Berlin since May 2018, will remain in this position while taking on additional responsibilities related to the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.

“President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to appoint the following individual to a key position in his Administration: Richard Grenell of California to serve concurrently as Special Presidential Envoy for Serbia and Kosovo Peace Negotiations,” a statement made on Thursday evening by the White House reads.

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci welcomed the news of Grenell’s appointment. “Now we are even more confident in the process of the dialogue and the possibility to reach recognition by Serbia and membership in the UN in order to finalize the consolidation of our statehood internationally,” said Thaci.

The dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia began in 2011 to discuss a number of technical agreements between the two countries. The ‘landmark’ Brussels Agreement was concluded between Kosovo and Serbia’s prime ministers in April 2013.

Since then, numerous other agreements were made under the auspices of the EU-mediated dialogue on subjects ranging from energy and freedom of movement of people to mutual recognition of higher education diplomas. However, both countries have been criticized for failing to fully implement the agreements. 

Relations between Kosovo and Serbia remain strained, and the dialogue with Serbia broke down in 2018, according to the Kosovo Government, due to the continued refusal of Serbia to recognize Kosovo’s independence and its campaign to delegitimize Kosovo’s statehood internationally.

In November 2018, following Kosovo’s failure to join international law enforcement cooperation body INTERPOL, Kosovo imposed a 100 per cent tariff increase on Serbian goods entering Kosovo after reports of Serbian efforts to block Kosovo’s membership.

A former Fox News commentator and long term Republican, Grenell has extensive experience in US foreign affairs and diplomacy, serving as the United States’ spokesperson to the United Nations between 2001 and 2008.

The US has never been directly involved in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia since 2011, with the EU taking a leading role in the process of reaching a final and legally binding agreement. It remains unclear exactly what this legally binding agreement would contain, nor the role that Grenell is expected to play in his new position.

04/10/2019 - 10:15

04 October 2019 - 10:15

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