Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Senator Robert Menendez, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations have accused the Trump administration of ignoring Serbia’s derecognition campaign against Kosovo, unfairly penalizing the Albin Kurti government, and leaving Serbian ties to the Kremlin largely unchecked.
In a letter addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Engel and Menendez called on the US Government to “continue diplomatic support to resolve the Kosovo-Serbia conflict in a way that’s fair to both countries, and consistent with US law and longstanding policy.”
“The U.S. has taken a heavy-handed approach toward the elected government in Kosovo. While we agree that Kosovo’s tariffs on Serbian goods — which have now been lifted — mainly hurt Kosovo and its citizens, this tool has been used by governments around the world, frequently including the Trump Administration. Kosovo is a close ally of the United States, and we urge you to adopt a patient and constructive approach with its democratically-elected government,” wrote Engel and Menendez.
The letter added that the US seems to have stopped its public pressure on Serbia to stop the derecognition campaign against Kosovo. It continues by highlighting the “Trump administration’s lack of balance between Belgrade and Prishtina is taking place in the context of Serbia expanding ties with Moscow and increasing imports of Russian armaments. These weapons purchases require the Administration to impose sanctions on Serbia under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) passed by Congress in the aftermath of Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections.”
It questions why the Government has failed to impose sanctions or actively pressed Serbia to end its global derecognition efforts.
Furthermore, they called out the Government for using the Millennium Challenge Corporation as a bludgeon and a transactional pressure tool noting it exerts political pressure on a diplomatic dispute.
The two signatories called on the Trump administration to “avoid heavy-handed, unbalanced tactics as it works with Kosovo and Serbia to reach a comprehensive peace settlement that reflects the will of the people of both countries.