US Congressman Eliot Engel has voiced concern over what he called the Trump administration’s interference in Kosovo politics.
In a recent letter, Engel says the US should work with the Kurti government, as they did with previous governments, to achieve peace in the region – not tact.
The US congressman points out that the US contributed to the political crisis in Kosovo at a time when we are facing a global pandemic.
“I am increasingly concerned with the ‘heavy handed’ tactics that the Trump Administration is using with Pristina. The State Department has long demanded that Kosovo lift the tariff on Serbia. But this administration resorted to economic penalties just weeks after the Kurti government took office. Instead of letting a new government, which was facing a pandemic, put its staff in its agencies and put in place internal procedures, the US contributed to a political crisis in Pristina over tariffs for Serbia. “
“Instead of using overlapping tactics with a friend who relies on our support, the United States should have worked patiently with the current government of Kosovo – as it had sought to work with previous governments in Kosovo – to improve policies that promote prosperity and a lasting peace. Exercising strength against a small democracy is an act of bullyism, not of a mature partner. “
Regarding the imposition of a 100% tax on Serbian products, Engel says that Kosovo as a sovereign state can legally impose them even though there are good reasons for their removal, but the pressure imposed on Pristina on taxes is unbalanced.
“Serbian diplomats are wandering around the world pressing for recognition of Kosovo, Serbia is deepening relations with Moscow and buying significant amounts of Russian weapons. In fact, under the Congressional Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), following Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election, these arms purchases require the administration to impose sanctions on Serbia. We have neither imposed those sanctions nor pressured Serbia vigorously to stop the recognition campaign. “
“Something is wrong with US policy and we have to correct it. We need to start rebalancing our approaches to Serbia and Kosovo. We must work with our European allies to treat both countries as independent and sovereign partners, while applying consistent standards for both sides as we strive to resume peace talks. When American law says that we should sanction Serbia because of its security ties with Russia, we should. “
Eliot Engel also says he is proud to have worked with various governments in Kosovo, a country he says Americans are most warmly expected in the world.
He stresses that he does not want to take sides and promises to continue cooperation with any government elected by the people of Kosovo.
The full letter from US Congressman Eliot Engel can be found here.