US Envoy Richard Grenell, Presidents Hashim Thaçi and Aleksandar Vučič have secretly negotiated a Kosovo-Serbia deal based on land swap; they are now trying to avoid Chancellor Merkel and impose it, according to political analyst Bodo Weber from Berlin Democratization Policy Council.
In an interview with Kosovo’s Gazeta Express published in Albanian, Weber argued that the two presidents have secretly negotiated the deal with Grenell’s mediation, the same way they did with EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini.
This is backed by the fact that Grenell took over the dialogue not long after Mogherini’s term ended, and by attempts to exclude the EU, Germany and Chancellor Merkel from the process, who strongly opposes the exchange of territories, according to Weber.
In this context, questions over the existence of a physical agreement ready to be signed by leaders are irrelevant, he suggested.
Weber does not see a Kosovo-Serbia agreement signed any time soon, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions. He suggests that once the pandemic is over, the US administration will come to realize that by pressuring Kosovo in the last months it has achieved no positive results. Instead it has caused irreparable damage to its reputation in Kosovo and in its political culture. As a result, the pressure on Kosovo will be reduced and the dialogue will go back to the EU leadership.
The political analyst argued that the US, and “the current administration in particular”, cannot replace the EU in the region, both in political and economic terms, and cannot offer Kosovo and Serbia a comprehensive final agreement.
Referring to a statement by three senior US diplomats – Richard Grenell, Matthew Palmer and Philip Kosnett – that they are not aware of talks between presidents of Kosovo and Serbia for exchange of territories, Weber said it doesn’t guarantee that borders won’t change and lands won’t be swapped.
He added that their statement and Grenell’s personal opinion against the idea, come amidst their growing concerns about their wrong actions in Kosovo, and they are not convincing.
Weber criticized the EU for lack of leadership in the past months of Grenell’s work in the region, as well as for not lifting the visa regime for Kosovo, which he called a “suicidal performance”.
President Thaçi and political parties that ousted the government have used the EU’s lack of decisiveness for their political gains, and declared Kosovo’s European perspective dead at this point in time, he argued.
The EU showed signs of awakening shortly before the no-confidence vote against the government, and it placed the interest of the Kosovo people to have a functioning government ahead of any other interest; the US administration did not defend any principles by supporting the overthrow of the government, according to Weber.