Richard Grenell: US to Facilitate Kosovo-Serbia Talks on Economy First, EU on Political Issues Later

US President Donald Trump’s special envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue has stated that the US has agreed with France and Germany to have two phases for the dialogue: the first one focused on economy and led by the US, and the second one focused on political issues and led by the European Union.

“There are two different phases to this: The US is focused on the economy. The political issues are European issues that come second […] The vision that we have, and we share with the French and the Germans, [is that] you are not going to be successful on the political issues unless you create jobs for young people and you get economic normalization,” he stated.

In an interview for Kosovo-based newspaper Gazeta Express, Grenell has been clear on the US perspective on several issues that have been discussed in public during the last week regarding the resumption of the dialogue. 

He denied rumors that Europeans and the US are not on the same page regarding the dialogue.

“[France and Germany] both know exactly what the limited role of the US is. Our limited role is to push towards economic normalization […] My vision, that I talked to French and German officials, has always been two steps: The first step is economic normalization […] We are trying to create some trust,” Grenell stated.

Specifically speaking, the backbone of the June 27 meeting in Washington will be the completion of agreements on air, rail, and motorway that Grenell helped Kosovo and Serbia sign. 

“[The] European path with Kosovo and Serbia towards the EU integration, that is totally led by Europe but that cannot be done until there is an economic normalization. This is the US vision,” he added.

Furthermore, he said that the Trump administration has never looked for a quick deal: “We do not have a timeline, we never demanded something quick.” Grenell added that land swap or any other political issue between the two countries has not been and is not the focus of US facilitation. Also, he stated that the US involvement has nothing to do with President Trump’s reelection and that there are no deadlines for an agreement from the US perspective.

Grenell clarified that the US has invited the Presidents and Prime Ministers of Kosovo and Serbia, and that it’s up to both countries to decide on the delegations that will represent them in the Washington meeting hosted by himself and President Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

Finally, Grenell insisted once again that the EU should provide a free visa regime for Kosovo, and suggested that they start with visa liberalization for business people, in order to help the Kosovo economy grow.