The US Ambassador to Kosovo, Philip Kosnett has said that Kosovo should lift the tariff on the import of Serbian goods and for Serbia to respond in a constructive manner.
Kosnett first called for Kosovo to lift the 100% tax back in February 2019 on Twitter. He said that it was time for Kosovo to lift the tariff, that Serbia should respond constructively, and that both parties should stop provocations.
It’s time for #Kosovo to suspend the tariffs, #Serbia to respond constructively, for provocations by both sides to end, #Belgrade and #Pristina to return to the EU-led #Dialogue, and for both sides to embrace peace boldly. – joint op-ed w/ @usambserbia https://t.co/8hGyF3M9gJ
— Ambassador Philip S. Kosnett (@USAmbKosovo) February 8, 2019
Then speaking to the Kossev media portal today, Kosnett said that while the US will not stop supporting Kosovo if the tariffs are not removed, they should be abolished to create more opportunities for investment in the country.
“Ambassador Grenell has never said that we will suspend assistance to Kosovo or its institutions unless tariffs are abolished. However, we believe that giving up tariffs will create opportunities for more investments because otherwise, it is difficult to imagine more US investment in Kosovo.”
Kossnet said that the US strongly supports the EU-led dialogue process between Kosovo and Serbia and that the process should be used to forge a more stable future for both nations. He added that citizens should “forget the past” and engage with NGOs to address the longstanding issues left over from the days of the conflict.
Yesterday, Speaker of Kosovo’s parliament Vjosa Omani stated that Vetevendosje Party and the Democratic League of Kosovo will meet in the coming days to decide on when to abolish the tax.
“Concerning its agreement, I believe that in 2-3 days we will have a coordination meeting and all the steps will be taken in terms of both time and content. Within a few days we will be able, as I have pointed out earlier, not to give this answer on behalf of the assembly, but as a coalition partner,” she said.
Former Prime Minister Haradinaj has publicly urged Prime Minister Kurti not to lift the tariff if Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence. In a public letter a few days ago, Haradinaj reminded Kurti that the internationals could tempt him with various benefits in exchange for lifting the tax on Serbia, but Kosovo must seek recognition from Serbia in exchange.
According to Serbian Monitor, Serbian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajic said that the country suffered some €461 million in damages since the tax was introduced 14 months ago. He added that there were long-term consequences for businesses that operated in Kosovo as there were still questions as to whether they would be able to return to the market if the tax is abolished.