Albanian American Civic League, very concerned about the new and accelerated pressure on Kosova

Dear Friends and Supporters—

Joe and I, along with the overwhelming majority of the Board of Directors of the Albanian American Civic League, are very concerned about the new and accelerated pressure from the European Union and the US Department of State on Kosova’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti and President Vjosa Osmani to capitulate to actions that favor the Serbian government, at the expense of Kosova. As a result, we have decided to make a public statement about our concerns, which we have shared with some Members of the US House of Representatives and Senate:

1) An astonishing statement from Derek Chollet, advisor to the US State Department, in which he said that it was good to speak with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and that he shared disappointment with Kosova’s decision not to delay license plate requirements and to advance Serbia’s EU integration. This amounts to US State Department collaboration with Serbia, whose President has no intention of recognizing Kosova’s independence and every intention of carving up an independent country.

2) Deputy Assistant Secretary Gabriel Escobar’s interview with Voice of America, in which he insists that Kosova delay the implementation of its license plate requirement in Northern Kosova, and, more important, that Kosova immediately enter into negotiations with Serbia to create the Association of Serb municipalities, about which he also states that both the United States and Europe are united.

As we have explained in the past, the position of the US State Department does not necessarily reflect the position of the Foreign Affairs committees in the Senate and House of Representatives. We believe that the US State Department is overly reacting to the Serbian government’s threats against Kosova—threats that are bound up with Belgrade’s relationship with Moscow.

Instead of capitulating to Serbia, steps should be taken that support the principled positions recently expressed by Albin Kurti and Vjosa Osmani. Otherwise, the conflict in Southeast Europe will intensify. We also hope that the silent ethnic cleansing of Albanians in southern Serbia will be brought to an end.

See below statements in response to the Serbia-Kosova conflict from Kosova Prime Minister Albin Kurti and President Vjosa Osmani. The key issue is not making concessions that divide Kosova along ethnic lines.

All the best,

Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi

Balkan Affairs Adviser

Statements by Kosova Prime Minister Albin Kurti and President Vjosa Osmani in response to Serbia’s threats in Northern Kosova and the State Department’s position on the conflict:

Osmani: Cannot make friends with someone with war tendencies or goals (Indeksonline)

President of Kosovo, Vjosa Osmani, in her address at the Paris Peace Forum, talked about the situation in Kosovo and said that “you cannot make friends with someone that has war tendencies against neighbours”. Osmani said that the situation between Russia and Ukraine is the second lesson that if the aggressor is rewarded it would only encourage them to attack the same country several years later.

“In the 1990s some viewed Milosevic as a peacemaker and that only with him peace could be achieved, but we know the outcome. The outcome was 150,000 innocent people killed in the wars in Yugoslavia. The lesson is that you cannot get close or make friends with an autocrat that has war tendencies or objectives against a neighbour, someone that does not recognise and continues to deny the existence of their neighbours,” she said.

Kurti: Ready to stretch our hand to Serbia if it is ready to free its fists (Koha)

Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, said today that “peace and security in Europe is not challenged only in the east by Russia, but also in the southeast by Serbia”. “They don’t have common borders, but they have common objectives. They see states with the lenses of ethnicity because they don’t believe in the values of democracy,” he said.

During a debate at the Paris Peace Forum, Kurti said that Kosovo is ready to stretch its hand to Serbia and create good neighbourly relations, but that he is sceptical if Serbia wants to do the same. “11 years later, relations are not better than they were a decade ago and there is a reason for this. Serbia has failed in its democratisation and wants more conflict than cooperation. It still glorifies war criminals instead of trying and punishing them. I fear that Serbia is neither democratic nor independent. It is a regime that is led by the Orthodox Church and dominated by Putin’s Russia. Kosovo wants good neighborly relations with Serbia and we are ready to stretch our hand to a country that has committed genocide against our country, if they are ready to free their fists. What we cannot offer are concessions to divide our country along ethnic lines, but if Serbia is not ready to recognise, the five member states of Europe don’t have to wait, they can help Serbia to recognise us by recognising us first,” Kurti said.