US ambassador: We cannot signal more clearly our dissatisfaction with the quality of the partnership with Kurti’s government

Džefri Hovenijer
FOTO: Ambasada SAD u Prištini

The US wants to see and is committed to Kosovo’s progress on its European and Euro-Atlantic path, it has supported and will support the people of Kosovo, but this does not mean that it will give „carte blanche“ any Kosovo government to any policy choices it makes, the US ambassador in Pristina said on Friday.

Jeffrey Hovenier addressed several media outlets, including KoSSev, at the US Embassy in Pristina yesterday. The main topics he discussed were the regulation of the Central Bank of Kosovo, more specifically, its method of enforcement, which is criticized by the West, as well as the quality of relations between Kosovo and the US precisely due to Pristina’s refusal to fulfill their demands.

Referring to the recent statement of the US Assistant Secretary of State James O’Brien, who said that the Kosovo government jeopardized the partnership with the US due to the way the regulation was enforced, Hovenier said today that this US official, however, made it clear that „the hand of the United States is still openly stretched out towards Kosovo“.

“We want a strong good partnership. We want to see Kosovo advance. But we will have and will continue to raise real concerns when we feel that the government is pursuing policies that impede this vision together.”

A degraded relationship has consequences and implications

He underscored that the US is dissatisfied with the “quality of its partnership” with Kurti’s government.

“I don’t think my government can signal more clearly than the ways we have signaled thus far that we are dissatisfied with the quality of our partnership with the Kurti government at this time, that we do not believe that the Kurti government has been sufficiently attentive to concerns we have consistently raised about the plans for and the subsequent implementation or enforcement of the Central Bank regulation… But we believe the reason for the reduction in the quality of our partnership, the reason why I cannot tell you that the partnership is strong and positive, is because of this choice, and because of the government’s thus far lack of sufficient response to the concerns we have raised.“

The ambassador said that other governments of Kosovo did things that were “hard” because it was “in the interest of the country, and because it advanced a shared agenda, vision.”

Hovenier warned that a “degraded” relationship has “consequences and implications.”

The effect of the lack of Pristina’s reaction to the concerns shared by the US

When asked whether US will impose measures against Kosovo, the ambassador did not provide a specific answer, instead, he reiterated that the relationship between US and Kosovo has been negatively affected.

He underscored that the lack of a reaction from the Kosovo government to the concerns of the US already had “effect”, while also expressing hope that the consequences of this effect will be diminished so that they can continue working on a European and Euro-Atlantic path of Kosovo.

Distance between ethnic communities in Kosovo

Hovenier then shared the allegations of CSOs representatives that there has been a greater distance between communities in Kosovo as of lately.

“And when I speak with individuals that I believe to be credible representatives of civil society, be they ethnic Serbs, or ethnic Albanians, many of the credible representatives of civil society that I speak to do talk about there being more distance between the communities right now than there had been in the past.”

He expressed hope that this would change.

“I think the promise and the vision of Kosovo is a multi-ethnic society in which all citizens live in conditions of dignity and security. That’s what we are working very hard to advance through our policy work, through our assistance programs and other things,” he added.

Hope to see a truly multi-ethnic society

When asked about the communication of the Kosovo government with Kosovo Serbs, Hovenier reminded of Kurti’s recent addresses in Serbian language, remarking that some CSOs have said that “not all of those presentations were found fully persuasive.”

“But that is for them to say, not me. I certainly encourage the Prime Minister to engage and his team to engage actively and effectively with all communities in Kosovo, Gorani, Egyptian, Turks, Ashkali, and others as well as the Serb community.”

Moreover, he highlighted the importance of communication.

“We hope to see a truly multi-ethnic society, in which all ethnicities be the majority or minorities feel that they are protected and served by their government and live in conditions of dignity and security. And a lot of our work as the US Embassy in Kosovo was to advance that vision.”

He reminded that Kosovo had made certain commitments about specific protections and specific arrangements for minority communities in Kosovo.

„Those commitments are part of Ahtisaari plan, but they are also part of Kosovo, your own Declaration of Independence and Constitution, were built on that basis as well. We fully support this and continue to support this project. So no one should be surprised if we find that the government does not fully comply with those promises,“ concluded the ambassador.

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