by Eve-anne Travers
Criticising recent US involvement in talks between Kosovo and Serbia, the Coalition of Albanian American Organizations has signed an open letter addressed to high US Government officials, stating that attempts to extract an “expedient deal” between the two countries could “once again destabilize the whole region.”
A coalition of Albanian American civic, religious, cultural and humanitarian organisations has signed an open letter expressing “serious concern” over the nature of recent US involvement in the normalisation process between Kosovo and Serbia.
The letter criticised current US tactics that have seen the current administration throw its weight behind political figures with “potentially destabilizing policy pursuits” that have fueled political crises in Kosovo.
The US Government appointed Richard Grenell as a special envoy to oversee the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue in October 2019, news which was welcomed by political figures such as Kosovo President Hashim Thaci. However, his involvement has since been condemned by incumbent Prime Minister Albin Kurti, who linked Grenell’s insistence to “push” Kosovo into a deal with Serbia with the downfall of the Kosovo Government in March.
The Coalition of American Albanian Organizations acknowledged the past successes of US involvement in statebuilding in the Balkans, but warned that these achievements may be “sullied due to short sighted diplomacy goals of certain officials in Kosova, Serbia and perhaps the United States.” It added that Serbian lobbying may have impaired the “moral compass” of US diplomacy, pushing the US towards supporting territorial exchange in pursuit of normalisation.
The letter emphasised that there are many prominent Serbian intellectuals, human rights activists, lawyers and civil society members who have expressed similar concerns. “We agree with them that not recognizing the atrocities committed in Kosovo during 1998-1999 is preventing true democracy to ensue,” the letter continues, noting that Serbia’s derecognition campaign aiming to weaken Kosovo’s international legitimacy is in direct contradiction to the US’s long held support for Kosovo’s independence.
The coalition outlined many of the atrocities committed by Serbian police and military apparatus in Kosovo in the 1990s, expressing regret over the recent tactics of Kosovo’s “most steadfast ally” in the Balkans, which it believes is no longer able to assist the two countries in creating the necessary conditions for success in negotiations.
“We could not have imagined US representatives today being complicit with short-sighted policies, which do not serve the interests of the people of Kosova and risk tainting your legacy of engagement in this region as the situation continues to devolve,” it states.
The Coalition called for “broader participation and transparency” throughout US involvement in talks between Kosovo and Serbia, which must be a “direct expression of the will of the people of Kosova,” demanding an immediate alteration to US foreign policy so that it prioritises and promotes lasting peace in the region.
“We are for a strong, mutually beneficial, and ever-lasting partnership between the Republic of Kosova and the United States of America,” the letter states. “Let us use the most recent unfortunate experiences as a learning opportunity and a stepping stone toward the establishment of a true partnership for the advancement of the mutual US, Albanian and other democratic interests throughout the Balkans.”