The attitude of some of Pristina’s leaders that taxes should be abolished only after Serbia recognizes Kosovo is not realistic – the U.S. special envoy to the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer said on the “Pravi Ugao” talk-show on RTV. On the contrary, according to Palmer, the US sees room for the continuation of the dialogue in the abolition of taxes by Kosovo and the suspension of the „Kosovo delegitimization campaign“ by Serbia. The goal of that dialogue, which should cover a wide range of topics from security, protection of cultural heritage, minority rights, to economic cooperation, is mutual recognition, he also said.
When asked why so much optimism surrounds the continuation of the dialogue, when there are still leaders in Pristina insisting that taxes should be abolished only after Serbia recognizes Kosovo, Palmer replied:
„It’s not realistic. The problem of recognition is not something that comes quickly and easily for Kosovo. Mutual recognition will be a difficult issue to talk about. The only place where this can be achieved is not the media, the newspapers or the television, but the negotiating table.“
Asked what kind of message is being sent when he, on the one hand, is assuring the citizens of Pristina that the US regards Kosovo as independent, while on the other hand, he is also encouraging them to reach a compromise, the U.S. special envoy stated that the US has a firm position on Kosovo, adding that this position is not enough to guarantee a European future to Kosovo.
Kosovo’s future is not to become the 51st US state
„Kosovo and the US have a strong relationship. It is solid, we are committed to its (Kosovo’s) independence, but it is not enough for Kosovo, they have good relations with the US and we appreciate that. However, Kosovo’s future is not to become the 51st US state, but to be a member of the European family of states. And they need a path to the EU that they can only get through a deal with Belgrade,“ Palmer said.
He also added that he understands Serbia’s decision not to recognize Kosovo as independent. Palmer, however, stressed that, for the US, „mutual recognition is the ideal solution to normalization.“ Furthermore, he did not exclude the possibility of the two sides agreeing on something else, a solution that „would not be a full mutual recognition, but one which would be better than what we have now.“
„As for the US, reconsidering Kosovo’s status is not the goal of the negotiations. The goal of the negotiations is to define the elements of a normal relationship between Belgrade and Pristina. As far as the US is concerned, our position is that mutual recognition is the ideal solution. However, there are certain things the parties could more easily agree on at the moment and this will improve the current situation. But it’s not up to me to decide. It is up to them to decide,“ he emphasized.
Palmer rejected the possibility of deeper involvement of the US in the Belgrade-Pristina talks and the idea of the partition of Kosovo or the exchange of territories. Instead, he insisted that the parties themselves set the agenda.
When asked what is his opinion of the partition idea, Palmer once again reiterated that the US is interested in normalization and that they would not impose any parameters to achieve that goal.
However, US political support for the implementation of a possible agreement will depend on whether the US considers the deal to be a good one – he added.
„We will not approve the solution in advance. We want to see what they will come up with as a solution and then present it to us, so if we have specific problems with that, we will approach both sides to fix them. If the two sides want our support, if they want our support for the implementation, our political support, then yes, we will want to get an OK deal,“ Palmer concluded.
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