Two top EU and US senior officials dealing with the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue have stressed the close collaboration between them as the key to overcoming disputes in the Western Balkans.
The comments were made following the reaching of an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on Thursday that ended raised tension on the Serbian side after Kosovo put in place a tax on its cars, copying the same Serbian tax on Kosovo cars.
EU special envoy Miroslav Lajcak facilitated the talks between the two countries in Brussels, supported by US Deputy Assistant Secretary Gabriel Escobar.
In the aftermath of successful talks, they both highlighted the relevance of EU-US unity on the issue.
“EU-US unity is key for success in the Western Balkans,” tweeted Lajcak, also thanking Escobar “who spent the last days in Brussels, in support of the EU-facilitated Dialogue.”
Earlier in the day, Escobar, who oversees US policy towards the Western Balkans countries, had also stressed the same, saying that the US partnership with the EU can help overcome inherited problems in the Western Balkans. “We have a long way ahead with the dialogue, and we will give our full support to Lajcak and his team for a constructive solution,” Koha quoted Escobar.
He supported Kosovo’s decision to apply reciprocal rules at the border with Serbia, stating that this was part of previous agreements between the two countries.
The latest remarks by both sides mark a change compared to the situation under the previous US administration. While the EU-US cooperation on issues related to the Western Balkans was also stressed before, in practical terms the previous US administration took a parallel leading role in initiatives related to the Kosovo-Serbia dispute that were criticized in Europe.
In relation to the car license plates issue, Kosovo and Serbia went back to the same agreement signed in 2016, but which was never implemented by Serbia. It requires cars from both countries to cover flags and country names with stickers at the border before entering the neighboring country.
Unlike previous governments in Kosovo, the current one led by prime minister Albin Kurti has vowed to demand Serbia to actually implement what it agreed to.
In Serbia, the imposition of such reciprocal measures by Kosovo is seen by the opposition as another step closer to recognizing Kosovo’s sovereignty.