Hovenier: It is simply not true that the current situation has not affected the relations between Kosovo and the US

The Kosovo government’s refusal to listen to requests made by the US in regard to the enforcement of the CBK regulation has affected the quality of the partnership between the two governments, the US ambassador to Pristina, Jeffrey Hovenier said today. Hovenier added that “any suggestions to the contrary reflect a fundamental misunderstanding.” He presented two requests before the Kosovo government – to establish a procedure in accordance with the CBK regulation, as well as EU standards on the transfer of funds from Serbia, and that prior to the establishment of this procedure, interim provisions should be regulated so that Serbia continues to finance the necessary social services, health and education.

The US ambassador in Pristina, Jeffrey Hovenier, held a press conference today.

Hovenier recalled the statement made by US Assistant Secretary of State James O’Brien the day before yesterday regarding the regulation of the Central Bank of Kosovo, that is, the demands of the US on resolving the newly created situation, stating that he „sent a clear message“.

„I sent a clear message, our ambassador to the United Nations also sent a clear message. I am restating, the US is extremely concerned about the manner in which this regulation is being enforced. We’ve raised these concerns in public and private,“ Hovenier said.

He reiterated that the US has nothing against Pristina regulating its financial sector, nor its actions to reduce financial crime, including money laundering, and that they do not challenge the Constitution of Kosovo or the authorities of the Central Bank.

„But we have repeatedly asked the Government of Kosovo to postpone enforcement of this regulation as greater preparatory work is needed, particularly in regard to the effect of the enforcement of the regulation on vulnerable members of minority communities,“ he said.

Two requests

Hovenier also revealed that they presented two requests to the Kosovo government.

„There needs to be a procedure in place for Serbia to transfer funds consistent with the CBK regulation, that meets EU standards and practices of good governance. The establishment of that procedure needs to be discussed in the EU-facilitated dialogue. We look for Kosovo and Serbia to engage constructively in this“ – reads the first request.

Another request they put forward is that it is necessary to have interim provisions, while work is being done to establish these procedures.

Those provisions would „allow Serbia to continue to provide funding or the needed social services. This includes pensions, payments to single parents… Thus far there has been no effort to make this happen on an interim basis,“ Hovenier emphasized.

It is not true that the situation did not affect the relationship between the US and Kosovo

He referred back to O’Brien’s recent statement, saying he regretted having to point out „very clear and harsh tones“.

„He asked for a partnership with the Government of Kosovo regarding this issue. He expressed regret that Kurti’s government has not been responsive to our request and he made clear, ‘if Kurti won’t treat us as a partner, it calls into question how much of a partner we can consider this government as being.’“

Following this statement by the US Assistant Secretary of State, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said that relations with the United States have not been threatened.

Without specifying which statements he was referring to, Hovenier said today that he was concerned that after O’Brien’s interview it was suggested that the current situation did not affect the relationship between Kosovo and the USA.

„I have to be clear, that is simply not true,“ Hovenier stated.

He also states that O’Brien said that this situation affected the quality of the partnership between the two governments.

„Any suggestions to the contrary reflect a fundamental misunderstanding or misrepresentation of the importance we place in resolving this issue, in a manner that is responsive to our concerns and more importantly, done in a manner that ensures continued support for vulnerable people from Kosovo’s minority communities,“ Hovenier stated.

He emphasized that he is concerned, even frustrated because the Kosovo government did not listen to the US requests to delay the implementation of the regulation.

Any suggestion that ‘things are ok’ and that we are all on board is simply not true. We are concerned and frustrated and I think O’Brien’s tone reflects that clearly

Hovenier emphasized that it is rare for a US official in the UN Security Council to be critical of Kosovo, and for the US Assistant Secretary to do the same.

„That already reflects a problem, we don’t want to be in these circumstances,“ Hovenier added.

He emphasized that in addition to the US, other partners have expressed „clear concern“.

„It seems unwise for the Kosovo government not to respond to those concerns, and I must say that our impression is that this is exactly what is happening now,“ he underlined.

I hope they will act according to what we demand, I can’t talk about the measures

Hovenier reiterates that the US is seeking a postponement in the enforcement of the CBK decree.

„I hope the government will take our advice, rather than simply saying they are talking to us about it, actually act in accordance with what we are requesting. That is our expectation for the partnership,“ said Hovenier.

When asked whether there will be consequences for Pristina, or whether there is a possibility of introducing measures, Hovenier said that he is not in a position to talk about it.

“But I will say, as Jim O’Brien has said. We would hope that Kurti’s government would engage, as partners do, in resolving this issue together, rather than taking action unilaterally,“ Hovenier said.

I know some would prefer not to discuss this in the dialogue, but we expect it

Asked about allegations that can be heard in Pristina that the dinar issue will not be resolved in dialogue, Hovenier says that „this misrepresents the situation“.

„If this is going to work, Serbia needs to also be on board on how it works. The mechanism for discussion is the EU dialogue. We said that, the EU said that… I can understand that some people would wish it to be otherwise, but I’m telling you how it is and what our expectations are,“ Hovenier said.

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