The US has continued with diplomatic pressure for Belgrade and Pristina to return to the negotiating table and resume dialogue on a solution to the Kosovo issue, with ambassadors to Serbia and Kosovo jointly making that request on Friday, suggesting mutual recognition as the foundation of an expected agreement.
It is time for Kosovo to suspend tariffs, for Serbia to respond constructively, for provocations to end on both sides, for Belgrade and Pristina to return to the European Union-led dialogue, and for both sides to embrace peace boldly, US Ambassador to Serbia, Kyle Scott, and US Ambassador to Kosovo, Philip Kosnett, said in a joint op-ed, published in Belgrade's Politika and Pristina's Zeri newspapers.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Belgrade never recognised the decision, and officially still considers Kosovo a province of Serbia in spite of having no de facto authority there, with the exception of a Serb-populated enclave in the very north of Kosovo.
Kosovo's is recognised today by 23 out of 28 EU member states, including ex-Yugoslav nations of Croatia and Slovenia, and around half of 193 UN members. Out of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, US, UK, and France recognise Kosovo, while China and Russia don't.
Washington believes a solution must be possible in both Kosovo and Serbia, and it has to contribute to long-term regional stability, Scott and Kosnett wrote.
“It is up to the leaders and their teams to return to the EU-mediated negotiations and look into every possibility and communicate openly with their citizens,” they said.
According to the ambassadors, the Belgrade-Pristina agreement has to be comprehensive and mutually beneficial so both sides can share its success, and the US has joined in the process to make sure the two sides shape and implement a viable agreement successfully.
“If you do so, we are optimistic you can reach a historic normalization agreement in 2019,” they said just six weeks after US President Donald Trump told the Presidents of Serbia and Kosovo, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci respectively, that agreement was possible.
They warned that the status quo obstructs both sides economic and political progress and encouraged experts and young people to seek their future in stable states with dynamic economies.
“Organized crime, corruption, and other extremist elements are spreading and becoming a threat to regional and European security,” the ambassadors said.
They said the Athens-Skopje agreement on a solution to their decades-old dispute over Macedonia's name "should be an inspiration to all in the region," adding that neither Kosovo nor Serbia "benefit from continued obstructionism and delay."
“A lasting and viable compromise agreement is in the interest of both countries. The long-term stability and prosperity of Kosovo and Serbia depend on their return to the dialogue and the courage to overcome the past and build a common future. If Kosovo and Serbia are prepared to take that path, the US will be on your side at every step,” the ambassadors wrote.
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