Acting Deputy Assistant US State Secretary Matthew Palmer says that America expects that Belgrade and Pristina, despite problems, continue their dialogue and he hopes for a normalization of relations by the end of the year.
Palmer told the Voice of America in Serbian language that America does not “put special pressure on Belgrade” in the direction of normalizing relations, that is, they make it on all participants in the negotiation process.
At the same time, he says that he hopes that the two sides will overcome the tensions that emerged after the expulsion of the head of the Serbian Government Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric, from Kosovo.
“This was a difficult period in the relations between Serbia and Kosovo and in the process of dialogue on the normalization of Belgrade-Pristina relations. I think it is important that the two sides return to the negotiating table in the dialogue as soon as possible, and try to put the events of three weeks ago behind and look ahead, to try finding a way to make progress in the agreed goals. As for the timeframe, do I think that normalization should be achieved by the end of the year – it would be great, I think there is an opportunity for significant progress in the dialogue by the end of 2018 if both sides are committed to the process,” says Palmer to VoA.
He expresses his hope that the two sides will be able to make progress, but that the US does not set an end date for the two sides to find a solution.
“I hope that the two sides will be able to make progress, I believe that this is possible, but I do not set an end date in sense – the two sides have to find a solution by that and that date, or we need to look for some other way. We will be in this as long as it takes,” says Palmer.
Asked whether he “with his visit, made pressure on Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to work on normalizing relations”, Palmer says that his visit part of a visit to the Balkans.
“I also visited Sarajevo and Pristina; the visits did not apply only to Belgrade. If it is about putting pressure on President Vucic, we put pressure on all involved parties to re-engage in dialogue and move forward towards achieving agreed goals. It is important that both sides devote themselves to the process, do what they are responsible for in order to move towards a successful solution,” says Palmer to VoA.
Talking about whether Kosovo can get a chair in the UN sooner, Palmer points out that this is the goal of the United States.
“We have no time limit for this, membership in the UN is a complicated process, it takes time to be achieved, but the integration of Kosovo into the international system continues, I hope it will accelerate and I hope that in the near future, Kosovo will be a member of the UN, but I repeat once again, we do not have any scheduled date in that sense, except as soon as possible,” says Palmer to Voice of America.
Commenting on the murder of Civic Initiative “Freedom, Democracy, Justice” Oliver Ivanovic, Palmer said that it was “a tragedy and an event that has damaged the chances of peace and communion in the region.”
According to him, it is very important that this investigation be continued, as well as that the responsible people are found.