Kosovo’s Acting Prime Minister Albin Kurti has repeated accusations against U.S. envoy Richard Grenell’s involvement in the toppling of his government, and stated that despite this the U.S. is indispensable for Kosovo. He added that no Kosovo-Serbia deal can be reached by excluding his party, Vetevendosje (LVV).
In an interview with Euronews Albania, Kurti stated that in their first of the two meetings, Grenell requested him in October to drop tariffs and for Serbia to stop the derecognition campaign and blocking of Kosovo’s membership in international organizations. However, he added, after Grenell’s visit in Belgrade in January, he stopped mentioning Serbia’s part and increased pressure only on Kosovo to unilaterally drop tariffs.
Kosovo’s acting prime minister added that in their conversations Grenell insisted that this was not a topic for debate, whilst he increased the pressure on junior coalition partner LDK “until they gave up and submitted [to pressure]”.
“[Grenell] had a role that was not neutral, on the contrary he had an active role. This tells me nothing regarding the USA. This is about an U.S. envoy, a very powerful one, with whom I have discussed, but on the other hand I haven’t accepted to put into question Kosovo’s interest, its stance vis-a-vis Serbia, our subjectivity because reciprocity is the most normal thing in bilateral realtions and in good neighboring relations, despite [Grenell’s] insistence.”
Kurti repeated is opinion that Grenell is mostly interested in an agreement, independently of its content and repercussions:
“I think he was more interested on a very quick Kosovo-Serbia deal. His focus was on the signature at the end of the agreement rather than its text, which would have consequences for Kosovo as a state and for its people.”
Regarding the existence of plan for land swaps between presidents of Kosovo and Serbia, which Grenell has denied ever being discussed in his presence, Kurti said that the American diplomats have not denied the existence of such plan, but have only stated that they haven’t seen such plan.
Kurti emphasized that for Kosovo the EU and US cannot replace each other, and that the US is an indispensable power.
“The EU and USA cannot be replaced and cannot replace each other. We can’t do without the US, there is no NATO with the US. We are in Europe and the Albanian nation is a European nation. I am against those Europeans who are against Americans, and likewise I don’t like those Americans who are anti-European. The EU and USA are our security and defense project.
He clarified that his criticism of Grenell is based on American values of patriotism which, he added, Albanians have learned from the West.
No deal with Serbia can be reached by excluding the largest party in Kosovo, Kurti argued. “The USA and EU are rational actors that assess the situation on the ground and act accordingly. They listen to the voice of the people and defend their interests,” he concluded.