Five Principles for U.S. Special Envoy to Guide Peace Talks Between Kosovo and Serbia
After Germany and France, the United
States are interested to for a final solution between Kosovo and Serbia. In a
short period of time, Washington has appointed two emissaries to deal with the
Western Balkans and Pristina-Belgrade dialogue. US Secretary of State, Mike
Pompeo, has appointed Matthew Palmer as the special envoy for the Western
Balkans. Whereas US President Donald Trump, has appointed Richard Grenell as
his special envoy on Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, who just recently visited Pristina
and Belgrade, Gazeta Express reports.
Diplomats and foreign policy experts perceive
this as increase of US commitment to solving Kosovo-Serbia issue. The US-based
Heritage Foundation, has published a list of priniciples which might help
Grenell to deal with the Kosovo dialogue. The Heritage Foundation considers
Kosovo-Serbia problem as a delicate issue, and advised Grenell to take into consideration
five principles in order to succeed in his work. The first advice to Grenell is
that nothing is easy in Balkans, and calls on
the US special representative to be
mindful of America’s past commitment to the region.
Nothing Is Easy in the Balkans
Ambassador Grinnell rolls up his sleeves and dives into the Gordian knot that
is the Balkans region, he should remember and be guided by these five principles:
Understand that nothing is easy in the Balkans and be mindful of America’s past
commitment to the region. Both Belgrade and Pristina will push
simplistic and seemingly easy proposals as a way to normalize relations.It
should never be forgotten that nothing in the Balkans is easy or
straightforward.The U.S. has invested heavily in the Balkans since
the end of the Cold War. Tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers have served in the
Balkans, and the U.S. has spent billions of dollars in aid there—all in the
hope of creating a secure and prosperous region that will someday be part of
the transatlantic community.
Be a Special Envoy, not a cartographer. Due to the disposition of minority
groups between the two countries, some suggest that a land swap between Kosovo
and Serbia could speed up the normalization process. Swapping land and
redrawing borders based on ethnic and sectarian lines would mark a dangerous
precedent and would open up a Pandora’s Box in the region. Supporting an
initiative allowing Serbia and Kosovo to swap thousands of acres of land is not
worth the instability it could cause throughout the rest of Europe. The U.S.
should make it clear that it does not support any land swap.
Work with Europe, not against it. The U.S. should work with its
European allies to encourage Kosovo and Serbia to normalize relations.
Stability in the Balkans is a major policy area of alignment Washington shares
with Brussels. The U.S. needs to stay engaged in the Balkans, remain committed
to the region’s security, and work with European allies, particularly the U.K.
and Germany, to advance a transatlantic security agenda. This includes
supporting the region’s transatlantic aspirations and continued U.S.
involvement in KFOR.
Be patient with Kosovo’s progress. It is a poor country and suffers
from high unemployment and corruption. The U.S. needs to develop a strategy
that: (1) understands the improvements in good governance and economic growth
will be a process and not an event; (2) focuses on Kosovo’s long-term
transatlantic aspirations, such as NATO membership; and (3) engages the
nation’s youth in building a robust civil society and a prosperous, dynamic
Keep eyes wide open when dealing with Serbia. Some Serbian politicians
talk a good game about wanting to join the transatlantic community, while
continuing to court the Kremlin. U.S. policymakers should not forget or ignore
that Serbia continues to serve as Russia’s foothold in the region. U.S.
policymakers should be conscious of the fact that Serbia is not only no
guarantor of stability in the Balkans but still a source of instability. This
is especially true in Bosnia and Herzegovina with Belgrade’s support for
separatism in the Republiska Srpska. That does not mean the U.S. should stop
seeking meaningful engagement with Serbia, but that any engagement should be
pragmatic and undertaken with a realistic view of Serbia.
appointment of Ambassador Grenell as Special Envoy denotes the Administration’s
intent to stay actively engaged in negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Ambassador Grenell must encourage the nations of the Western Balkans to put
aside historical, cultural, or religious complaints and work constructively to
increase trade relations, settle border disputes, and forego inflammatory
rhetoric for the sake of stability. These five principles should help guide the
Special Envoys to work in a critical region of Europe.