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Progress And Concerns In Kosovo

Kosovo, NATO troops
Kosovo, NATO troops

The U.S. congratulates Kosovo on the anticipated end of supervised independence; threats to security and freedom of movement in north a concern.

Kosovo continues to make political progress said Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Rosemary DiCarlo. The United States congratulates Kosovo on the anticipated end of supervised independence. The decision to end supervised independence in September is a vote of confidence in Kosovo’s dedication and ability to build a multiethnic, democratic state.

The United States welcomed the recent Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s facilitation of peaceful Serbian parliamentary and presidential elections for dual nationals in Kosovo. Kosovo and Serbia worked effectively with the international community to promote the development of democratic institutions and to allow dual nationals to exercise their right to vote without infringing on Kosovo sovereignty.

Now that the new Serbian government is in place in Belgrade, the U.S. hopes to see resumption of the progress in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. This includes the implementation of previous agreements, including on integrated border management. The U.S. is encouraged that both governments have publicly expressed their commitment to working constructively together. The U.S. continues to support the EU’s efforts to foster dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia with the goal of normalizing relations between the two states.

Amidst all the progress, the U.S. remains concerned over threats to security and freedom of movement in northern Kosovo. There has been a lack of cooperation in addition to attacks and threats to international personnel from hardliners in the north. Blockades continue to be erected; troop movements continue to be restricted; and personnel form the European Union Rule of Law Commission, or EULEX, and NATO-led Kosovo peacekeeping forces, or KFOR, continue to be threatened.

The principal threats to peace in Kosovo, said Ambassador DiCarlo, come from hardline, criminal elements in the north. The U.S. looks to Belgrade to cooperate fully with KFOR and EULEX and to encourage the cooperation of Kosovo Serbs, as well.

The U.S. remains concerned about the violence some returnees continue to experience. Managing the returnee process is difficult, but the looting of returnee houses, stoning of vehicles, and acts of physical violence are unacceptable and stymie reintegration. The U.S. commends the Kosovo government for its commitment to supporting returning populations through its Municipal Offices for Communities and Returns. As elsewhere in the region, more needs to be done to create conditions for voluntary returns.

The United States remains committed to advancing peace, stability and prosperity in the entire Balkans region. The U.S. looks forward to the continued cooperation with both Serbia and Kosovo toward realizing their aspirations for European and Euro-Atlantic integration.