Interview with Matthew Palmer, acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of the United States of America. The interview was taken during the Bled Strategic Forum 2018, which took place on 10-11 September in Bled, Slovenia, where Palmer was one of the speakers.
Last month, national security adviser John Bolton said the United States “would not stand in the way” of a land swap deal between Serbia and Kosovo. Recent reports suggest the two countries are close to an agreement that would resolve one of Europe’s most challenging political standoffs since the end of the Cold War.
Hashim Thaçi, the President of Kosovo, is due to meet with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vučić on 7 September. Bekim Çollaku, Chief of Staff to the President of the Republic of Kosovo, writes that the current limbo over Kosovo’s status serves no one’s interests, and that while a deal between Serbia and Kosovo might be opposed by some actors, there is nothing to fear from an agreed solution.
The current format of negotiations on the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo under the auspices of the EU has come to a complete standstill. Additionally, Kosovo’s internal affairs are becoming increasingly complicated. This impasse is creating a series of political, security and political threats for Serbia, Kosovo and the Western Balkans, but also the EU and NATO and their member states. Five and a half years after the adoption of the Brussels Agreement on the principles governing the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, five EU countries, of which are four are NATO members, still do not recognise Kosovo’s independence. This stalemate impedes EU polices towards the region, which was painfully obvious during EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia earlier this year.