Richard Grenell, the US Special Envoy for Serbia-Kosovo negotiations and the Acting Director of US National Intelligence has made a strong statement against Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s decision to phase out the Serbian import tariff.
Kurti announced yesterday that they would start to phase out the 100% import tariff from 15 Mach. Firstly it would be lifted on raw materials and if Serbia responded by halting the campaign against Kosovo’s independence, the government would remove all tariffs for all goods on 1 April for 90 days. If Serbia continues or restarts the campaign against recognition of Kosovo as an independent state, the tariff would be reinstated.
Grenell took to Twitter to condemn Kurti’s decision, stating that the US government does not support the measures and that tariffs must be completely dropped. He added that Kurti is making a “serious mistake” and that this had been reiterated to President Thaci during his visit to the White House.
We do not support Prime Minister Kurti’s half measure. Our position is quite clear: the tariffs must be completely dropped. Mr Kurti is making a serious mistake – and that was made clear to President Thaci at the White House today.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) February 27, 2020
The response on social media was one of outrage as many questioned whether Grenell took such a strong stance against Serbia’s refusal and active steps to delegitimize Kosovo’s independence, preventing it from joining institutions such as NATO and UNESCO.
Peter Stano, lead spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the EU published a statement cautiously supporting the news, a stark contrast to the US position.
“We welcome this announcement as a first step and are looking forward to seeing more details,” he said.
“This step could have a positive effect on restoring regional trade and offer an opening for the resumption of the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina facilitated by the European Union,” he added.