Grenell, Palmer, Kosnett: There is no secret land swap plan, lift the tariffs

“There is no secret plan for land swaps between Kosovo and Serbia, as some have speculated. Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell has never seen nor discussed such a plan,” US Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell, Ambassador Philip Kosnett, and Special Representative for the Western Balkans Matthew Palmer wrote in a joint statement last night.

The US officials reacted following the collapse of Albin Kurti-led Kosovo government on Wednesday night. In a joint statement, they urged Kosovo’s leaders to follow the Constitution, while expressing commitment to cooperate with any government formed through the constitutional process.

 “The United States stands with the people of Kosovo.  We commend the continued efforts of the health professionals and others who are working hard, at great risk, to reduce the progress of COVID-19 in Kosovo.  In this time of uncertainty, we urge Kosovo’s leaders to follow Kosovo’s Constitution and the rule of law.  We are committed to working with any government formed through the constitutional process.”

They also called on the Kosovo leaders to lift the tariffs on goods from Serbia and BiH completely, especially bearing in mind the current fight against the coronavirus pandemic:

 “We believe the tariffs are harming the people of Kosovo by hindering regional cooperation against COVID-19 – including by delaying the entry into Kosovo of needed supplies – and hindering economic growth.”

During Wednesday’s 12-hour long assembly on the vote of no-confidence in the Pristina government, the LVV party and Kurti himself alleged that “a secret land swap agreement” is standing behind Thaci’s call for a state of emergency – which Kurti refused to do, leading to the no-confidence motion against the government. Kurti also claimed that „champagne“ is expected at the White House over this agreement, adding that it would, however, also require „incidents and bloodshed“ in the field beforehand.

Kosnett, Grenell and Palmer strongly denied that such a plan exists:

“We want to make clear there is no secret plan for land swaps between Kosovo and Serbia, as some have speculated. Special Presidential Envoy Richard Grenell has never seen nor discussed such a plan,” the joint statement reads.

Instead, the U.S. Government is focused on supporting the recent agreements to re-establish air, rail, and highway connections between Kosovo and Serbia, and aims to improve the economy while creating economic momentum – the statement also underlined.

“We believe this momentum will give new energy to a dialogue process that would lead to mutual recognition,” they concluded.

The US Ambassador, Philip Kosnett welcomed the initiative to vote on a no-confidence motion against the government a day before the voting took place, garnering criticism from the European Parliament Rapporteur for Kosovo, Viola von Cramon.

“Pleased to see the Assembly will hold a session on the no-confidence vote tomorrow. As I told the PM today, it is important for the Assembly and all Kosovo institutions to respect the Constitution,” US ambassador to Pristina, Philip Kosnett announced at the time.

“An own goal of the US in Kosovo with an historical dimension. How can you an ambassador be pleased to see a functional government tumbling in the corona pandemic? Unbelievable. Irresponsible. I feel terrible sorry for the citizens of Kosovo. They don’t deserve this,” Viola von Cramon tweeted.


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