President Donald Trump has applauded the signing of letters of intent that open the way to flights between Prishtina and Belgrade after a 21-year hiatus.
“Everyone said it couldn’t be done. But for the first time in a generation, there will be direct flights between Serbia and Kosovo. Another win. Thanks to @WHNSC Ambassador Robert O’Brien and Ambassador @RichardGrenell!” Trump tweeted today.
A letter of intent was signed yesterday between Lufthansa’s Eurowings, Kosovo’s Civil Aviation Authority and a delegation from the Serbian government.
The agreement was brokered by the U.S. Ambassador to Berlin and President Trump’s special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Richard Grenell, and US National Security Adviser, Robert C. O’Brien. No EU representative was involved.
Kosovo’s president and prime minister, Serbia’s president, Albania’s prime minister and NATO Secretary General welcomed the news. NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg stated that KFOR retains the authority in the airspace over Kosovo, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1244.
Serbia does not recognize Kosovo as independent and considers its airspace as its own. The Serbian government said that flights could only start after Kosovo abolishes the 100 percent tariff on Serbian goods and the dialogue between the two countries resumes.
The dialogue for normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia has completely stalled since Haradinaj imposed a 100 percent tariff on Serbian goods in November 2018. The decision came after Serbia’s successful blocking of Kosovo’s membership in international organizations, including UNESCO and Interpol, and its foreign policy for the withdrawal of Kosovo’s recognition.
The U.S. strengthened its diplomatic presence in the region last year, with a particular focus on an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. In October 2019, President Trump appointed Matthew Palmer as the new U.S. Special Representative to the Western Balkans, as well as the ambassador to Berlin, Richard Grenell, as the U.S. special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.