US urges Serbia, Kosovo to focus on economy

Alaturka Politika Haberleri

By Talha Ozturk

BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) – The U.S. on Friday urged Serbia and Kosovo to focus on their economies.

The remarks from the U.S. came after its Presidential Special Envoy for Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Richard Grenell visited the region.


Addressing the media at a joint news conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Grenell called for the withdrawal of Kosovo’s 100% customs tariff on Serbian imports and an end to Serbia’s campaign encouraging states to "de-recognize" Kosovo.

"We come to connect you, I have no agenda or idea. I will not pressure you, I want to connect you so that your economies grow, create more opportunities for young people, stay here and have hope. I try to focus on creating momentum in the economy, and I want to leave politics to you,” said Grenell.

Grenell announced that a meeting of experts from both sides would be held in Berlin on Monday on the establishment of a railway line between Belgrade and Pristina.

He thanked Vucic for steps toward establishing a Belgrade-Pristina airline.

Meanwhile, Vucic said he did not accept equality in withdrawing fees and withdrawing recognition of Kosovo.

Vucic recalled that Belgrade offered Pristina a break in applications for admission to various international organizations, while Serbia would take a break in the "recognition of independence" campaign, but that was denied.

"It is not in dispute that a compromise is found and that is why we are talking to Grenell," Vucic said.

Vucic announced that Belgrade is ready to work on establishing a rail line between Belgrade and Pristina.

"I just said that it is important for the fees to be removed because otherwise, the train would go without goods," said Vucic.

Serbia lost €435 million ($480 million) in one year due to taxes, he added.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade insists the country is one of its provinces.

Kosovo's independence has been recognized by more than 100 countries, including the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, and Turkey. Those who have not yet recognized its independence, included Serbia, Russia, and China.

The Serbian government has been holding political talks with countries to withdraw recognition for Kosovo's independence.

As a result of Serbia's campaign, Kosovo in 2018 failed to become a member of the International Police Service (Interpol).