Kosovo and Serbia have signed an agreement to restore the railway link connecting the two countries. The agreement was signed in Munich today, in the presence of both presidents, Hashim Thaçi and Alexandar Vučić, US President envoy Richard Grenell and US Ambassador to Kosovo Philip Kosnett.
It also prescribes the willingness of both parties to work on constructing new roads connecting them, according to Kosovo media reports.
This is the second agreement in few weeks under the mediation of Grenell, following the January 20 agreement on the resumption of commercial flights between Belgrade and Pristina after more than 20 years.
“Another milestone! First, the deal on air traffic & today we signed the deal on railways & highways b/w Kosovo and Serbia. Thank you @realDonaldTrump for your leadership, and @RichardGrenell for the resolve. A great step towards reaching a final peace agreement b/w two countries,” Thaçi tweeted.
The US Embassy in Berlin tweeted: “Amb. Grenell opened @MunSecConf with the historic signing of railway and highway agreements between #Serbia and #Kosovo, following last month’s agreement to restore direct flights between #Belgrade and #Pristina. #MSC2020”
Thaçi flew to Germany yesterday, where Prime Minister Albin Kurti is also expected to attend the Munich Security Summit today.
Kurti invited Thaçi to meet before they departed to Germany, in order to coordinate their stances in meetings with world leaders during the summit, but they didn’t meet.
Only one week into his premiership, Kurti is facing increasing pressure to unilaterally drop the tariffs on Serbian goods imposed by the previous Haradinaj government following Serbia’s foreign policy of blocking Kosovo’s membership in international organizations (UNESCO, Interpol), and lobbying countries to withdraw recognitions.
Kurti has stated his government will replace the tariffs with “political, economic and commercial reciprocity” with its neighbor. Whilst it’s not exactly clear what this could mean in practice, Serbia refuses any conditions from Kosovo, which it doesn’t recognize as a country. It further demands the dropping of tariffs before going back to the “dialogue for normalization of relations” between the two countries.