Serbia and Kosovo agree to normalize economic relations, says Trump | News from Serbia

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An agreement between Serbia and Kosovo to work on economic relations, hailed by US President Donald Trump on Friday as a “major breakthrough”, reaffirmed promises to establish road and rail links, but left the normalization movement pending policy.The two countries – which are part of the former Yugoslavia – have agreed, for a year, to freeze advocacy campaigns for and against the normalization of political ties, said US officials, who nonetheless welcomed a handful of measures. economic as a significant advance in the relations between the two parties.

Speaking in the Oval Office surrounded by leaders of the two countries, Trump said Serbia has also pledged to move its embassy to Jerusalem, and that Kosovo and Israel have agreed to normalize relations and establish relations. diplomatic.

Serbian President Aleksander Vucic told reporters that there were still many differences between Serbia and its former province, which declared independence in 2008, but said Friday’s deal was a huge step forward.

He later told Serbian media that Serbia’s deal was with the United States and not Kosovo.

Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti also welcomed the measures and said they should lead to mutual recognition between the two countries, the key issue dividing them.

“Serbia and Kosovo are each committed to economic normalization,” Trump said. “By focusing on job creation and economic growth, the two countries have been able to achieve a major breakthrough. “

PEOPLE AND POWER | Newborn Kosovo (11:01)

Political analysts, however, described the agreement as disappointing and vague.

“In my mind, this is more of a resumption of dialogue between the two parties. It’s good for the region. But it’s not like a massive, massive breakthrough, ”said Jasmin Mujanovic, a political scientist specializing in Eastern Europe.

“It’s rather vague. It’s not even economically clear, ”said Edward Joseph, senior researcher at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

A negotiator

Republican Trump, who runs for re-election in November, is looking to boost his international deal-negotiating skills and recently announced a pact to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Trump lags behind his Democratic rival Joe Biden, who served as vice president under then-President Barack Obama, in national opinion polls.

Friday’s event, which came after two days of talks between executives and key Trump aides, was originally scheduled to take place in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, with two tables set for the executives. It was abruptly moved to the Oval Office, with Trump’s desk between the two tables.

Serbian and Kosovar leaders appear to be signing separate documents, not just one. Trump, meanwhile, signed letters acknowledging the two countries would work together.

Ambassador Richard Grenell, who is a special envoy on the matter but who is not an employee of the US government, said the US was not a signatory.

Serbia would be the first European country to open an embassy in Israel in Jerusalem, and Kosovo the first with a Muslim majority. Only two countries have done so so far: the United States and Guatemala.

A History of Arab-Israeli Normalization (3:56)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed these measures.

The predominantly ethnic Albanian, predominantly Muslim Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 after a NATO-led bombing campaign in 1999 in which the United States participated, to stem a war sparked by years repressive Serbian regime and to end ethnic cleansing. by Belgrade.

Serbia, supported by its traditional Slavic and Orthodox Christian ally, Russia, refused to recognize Kosovo’s independence, a prerequisite for Belgrade’s accession to the European Union.

National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told reporters that expanding economic ties, increasing border crossings and mutual recognition of professional licenses could pave the way for political solutions in the future.

He said the deal would also lead to an increase in US investment, but gave no details.

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