Former US Ambassador to Bulgaria, James Pardew spoke out again on the United States’ current policy in Kosovo, in an interview with BIRN Kosovo.
Pardew, who also was an advisor to President Clinton, reasserted his opinion that Grenell lacks the experience and qualifications to handle the delicate and complicated politics of the Balkans. He called the current administration overconfidence “foolhardy”, and its policy in Kosovo “wrong-headed” and “counterproductive”.
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, to be so overconfident to think you can just walk into a very complicated region and perform some kind of miracle, that is foolhardy and I think a gigantic mistake for the United States and our European allies,” Pardew said.
Referring to the removal of US aid from Kosovo and threats to withdraw US troops, Pardew said: “I think it’s a wrong-headed policy to do what they have done […] I just think it’s counterproductive, and it’s certainly counterproductive at this particular time in the history of the world.”
He criticized the rush of the US administration for a quick deal, arguing that the matter requires careful and thoughtful consideration, as well as experienced professionals to deal with it.
“Quite frankly, Grenell doesn’t have the experience to deal with these kinds of sophisticated Balkan issues. I am appalled at the policy of the United States for the region right now,” Pardew said.
Having assisted in the drafting of the Ahtisaari Plan that ultimately resulted in Kosovo’s independence, Pardew remained insistent on Kosovo’s sovereignty. He stated that, as a sovereign country, Kosovo has no obligation to follow United States policy.
Serbia needs to accept “the fact that Kosovo is an independent country” before it get ready for a deal, independently of whether the US exerts pressure on its leadership or not. “Serbia is not going to sign a peace deal unless it gets everything it wants, and it wants a lot.”
Taking a wider perspective, Pardew, who also contributed to peace deals between ethnic groups in Bosnia and Macedonia, maintains that for a Kosovo-Serbia deal to be possible, Serbia should face its recent history, particularity crimes committed in Bosnia and Kosovo. Instead, he argued, Serbia’s politicians have tragically been promoting ethnic nationalism, something that the US should rebuke.
Ultimately, however, Pardew reminded that the global pandemic must take precedence over any “petty bickering between Serbia and Kosovo,” and that the US should be encouraging stability in the region.
Last week, Pardew also published an opinion piece in The Hill, accusing the current US administration, particularly US Special Envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue Richard Grenell, of playing to Serbian and Russian interests by destabilizing Kosovo politics.