Damon Wilson, vice president of the Atlantic Council, spoke before members of a U.S. senate committee and underlined that Washington’s strategy should be focused on dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and North Macedonia joining NATO, Tirana-based paper Shekulli reported.
He said the achievement of a comprehensive and historic agreement between Kosovo and Serbia would include full normalisation of relations and mutual recognition which would pave way for Serbia to make progress in its EU integration aspirations and allow Kosovo to join United Nations as a sovereign nation.
“Without an agreement, Russia has influence over Serbia and as a result, over the region. Absence of an agreement feeds into nationalist political debates by delaying developments of democracy in Serbia and allowing the Kosovo leaders to avoid difficult issues of governance,” Wilson warned.
He said there can be opportunity for dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia to resume following Kosovo parliamentary elections in October. “U.S. leadership is critical to ensure progress and we welcome the appointment of seasoned diplomat Matt Palmer as special representative for the Western Balkans. To convince the two sides to return to negotiations, the U.S. and EU diplomacy should advance reciprocal steps to achieve an ante status quo: Kosovo would lift its 100-percent tariffs while Belgrade would stop its campaign for de-recogntiion.”
“An often-discussed land swap is not viable,” said Wilson adding that the U.S. and EU should instead promote economic integration as a means to minimise the relevance of borders in the region.