US Secretary Pompeo, Ambassador Grenell refuse to meet Kosovo PM Kurti - Gazeta Express

US Secretary Pompeo, Ambassador Grenell refuse to meet Kosovo PM Kurti

Ballina

Gazeta Express

15/02/2020 14:54

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Presidential Envoy on Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue Richard Grenell, refused meeting Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Munich after he contested the two US-brokered deals on restoring rail and road links. The US is also against Kurti’s plans to replace tariffs on Serbian imports with full economic, trade and political reciprocity with its neighbour. A source told Gazeta Express that no US senior official will meet Kurti until he rescinds the 100 percent tariffs on Serbian goods.

Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti seemed to be on a collision course with the United States after contesting the two US-brokered agreements on restoring rail and highway lines between Kosovo and Serbia reached on Friday during an international security conference in Munich, Germany.

As newly appointed prime minister Kurti was performing a good PR stunt by refusing VIP entrance and taking a business-class flight from Pristina International Airport to Munich. But while he was waiting to getthe flight, Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, appeared in a ceremony signing two new agreements, brokered by the US Ambassador Grenell. On behalf of Kosovo the agreement was signed by two civil servants of the Ministry of Infrastructure. Reportedly Kruti knew nothing about these agreements.

He remained silent until late on Friday, but attending a roundtable at the Munich Security Forum, he disputed the deals, whereas later he confirmed his position posting a statement in Facebook. Kurti said the agreements were signed without his authorisation after on behalf of Kosovo signed two officials of former Government. He also said that as Prime Minister of Kosovo he was not informed on the contents of the agreements.

Reliable sources told Gazeta Express that Washington deems as unacceptable Kurti’s approach towards EU-brokered deals between Pristina and Belgrade and his protracted stance on rescinding tariffs against Serbia. The same source said Kurti asked a meeting with the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Ambassador Richard Grenell, but their answer was clear: “No. That’s it,” a source told Gazeta Express. Reportedly his recent statements on agreements reached with Serbia, and his persistence to replace tariffs with reciprocity, are leading Kurti towards a direct collision course with the United States of America. “No one can undermine the dialogue process” a source told Gazeta Express. The source even stated that Ambassador Grenell or any other senior US official will not meet Kurti until he decides to drop 100 percent tariffs on Serbian imports. “No senior US state official will meet Kurti until he drops tariffs. Kurti will meet only low level officials,” the source specified.

As the Vetevendosje leader Albin Kurti seemed opposing reaching of the agreement with Serbia, his coalition partner – the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) welcomed the deals. Kurti’s deputy in Government coming from the LDK, Avdullah Hoti, met on Saturday US Ambassador Grenell, after the latter refused to meet Kurti on Friday. Hoti confirmed the meeting in a Facebook post saying that he assured Grenell Kosovo remains a reliable partner in normalisation of relations with Serbia. “I assure [Grenell] that new Government will not avoid responsibilities in this process, and we remain fully committed to the dialogue,” Hoti said.

The dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia became more dynamic after US President Donald Trump appointed Ambassador Grenell as his envoy in this process. Under Grenell’s mediation Kosovo and Serbia reached three agreements and new deals have been announced.

Albin Kurti seems unprepared for such an accelerated dynamics of dialogue. The Prime Minister Kurti after assuming his office at the beginning of February said he would initially scan all the agreements reached so far with Serbia during the EU-facilitated dialogue in Brussels. He told Radio Free Europe on Friday that the dialogue with Belgrade can resume only after Serbia gets new Government, considering that Serbia is set to hold general elections in April. Attending a panel of discussions in Munich Kurti reiterated his already known position on dialogue stating that that there can be no agreement without dialogue; no talks with maps; and no presidents negotiating around these maps. A clear reference of an initiative which was supported by Kosovo president Hashim Thaci on “land swap” between Kosovo and Serbia. /GazetaExpress/