Former US Ambassador to Belgrade Michael C. Polt has criticized the US administration’s pressure on Kosovo and supported reciprocity measures with Serbia introduced by acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
Polt, who was an ambassador in Belgrade in the 2004-2007 period, tweeted his comment alongside a New York Times article titled “US Opposes Kosovo’s ‘New Barriers’ to Serbian Goods”.
US Opposes Kosovo’s 'New Barriers' to Serbian Goods https://t.co/J5b7B65rb3. There is no reason Kosovo should not demand reciprocal treatment of its trade with Serbia. U.S. pressure on Kosovo in this case is wrong.
— Michael C. Polt (@amb_mike) April 2, 2020
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Albin Kurti lifted all tariffs on imports from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and at the same time introduced temporary reciprocity measures with Serbia.
Kurti urged Serbia to stop its campaign against Kosovo’s statehood and to remove non-tariff trade barriers. Kosovo’s reciprocity measures will be re-assessed in June in light of Serbia’s reaction.
Few hours later, the EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell praised the decision on Twitter:
Happy to see the decision on the full lifting of tariffs by #Kosovo caretaker government for goods coming from Serbia and BiH. This is an important decision. Regional cooperation is key as is maintaining flow of goods, in particular in times of crisis #COVID19
— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) March 31, 2020
In a statement, the US embassy in Kosovo condemned Kurti’s move to introduce reciprocity measures, claiming it will create problems with Serbia while the US is trying to mediate an agreement between the two countries.
Kosovo’s government was ousted in a no-confidence vote last week, mainly as a result of pressure by the US administration to immediately drop tariffs on Serbian goods and not impose reciprocity measures. Government’s resistance and the growing US pressure pushed junior coalition partner LDK to bring a motion of no confidence against the prime minister.