International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

Carpenter: No progress on Kosovo before elections in Serbia

February 12, 2020

Former senior Pentagon official Michael Carpenter told the Voice of America on Wednesday that any progress in relations between Belgrade and Pristina will be hard to achieve before the April elections in Serbia but urged the forming of a stabilization fund for both sides.

“Do I think it’s possible, certainly it is. I think a lot more effort and resources have to be invested but I will say this in defense of (the US President’s envoy) Ambassador (Richard) Grenell – I think he achieved a lot in talks to renew direct flights,” the Senior Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement said. Carpenter served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and advisor to then Vice-President Joe Biden.

He said a decision from the Kosovo government to revoke the 100 percent tariffs on goods from Serbia would be a very positive signal. “If he (Grenell) manages to achieve that, I think he will at least be able to achieve greater progress in the near future. I think he has to resolve some of the reasons for the dispute and animosity between the two sides, including the tariffs, before he can really get to work on an agreement. That is the road that Grenell is on now,” he said.

According to Carpenter, the hard part will be putting something on the table that is acceptable to most Serbs and most Albanians. He said that was never realistic without significant funds and investments, especially a stabilization fund. Carpenter recalled that he has been urging the European Union and US to put the stabilization fund option on the table and show the two sides that they will see reconstruction, jobs, economic growth and infrastructure once an agreement is reached.

Carpenter warned that a solution to the conflict can’t be complete unless Serbia recognizes Kosovo as independent. He said that the US has an interest in the stability and security of the Balkans because it allows the countries of the region to join EuroAtlantic institutions.

Source:  http://rs.n1info.com/English/NEWS/a568888/Carpenter-No-progress-on-Kosovo-before-elections-in-Serbia.html

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