Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci, right, and U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell pose for a photograph, in Kosovo capital Pristina, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Grenell, who is U.S. President Donald Trump's special envoy for Serbia and Kosovo visited Kosovo in an effort to urge both countries to resume negotiations and reach a final reconciliation agreement. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

U.S. envoy urges Kosovo, Serbia turn eyes on economy, jobs

January 22, 2020 - 1:16 pm

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy for talks between Balkan rivals Serbia and Kosovo was in Pristina on Wednesday in an effort to urge both countries to resume negotiations and reach a final reconciliation agreement.

Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, met Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci and said President Donald Trump “has been singularly focused on trying to solve this problem by not looking backward, by not having the same old political stalemate and arguments.”

Grenell was appointed by Trump as the special envoy for Kosovo and Serbia in October.

The dialogue between the two countries mediated by the European Union, which started in 2011, stalled in November 2018 after Kosovo set a 100% tariff on Serbia’s goods and services. Belgrade says no dialogue will take place until Kosovo lifts or suspends the tariff.

“We’re going to push both the government and the leaders in Kosovo and Serbia to say: Look at the people, start moving forward with the jobs,” said Grenell, speaking at a Pristina restaurant before dinner with Thaci.

“President Trump has been focused on this by saying: When you have a vibrant economy, when you have people that are participating in the economy in a new way, with new businesses and better jobs, the political issues tend to fall apart because then people focus on their daily life,” he said.

The U.S. and European business communities would like to have a larger presence in the region, Grenell said, adding that “you can’t do that if there is conflict between the political establishments.”

More than three months after a snap parliamentary election, Kosovo has yet to create a new government with the two winning political parties still in disagreement over who will fill the posts of president and parliamentary speaker.

Grenell said he was not going to get involved in the political debate, which he considered as “looking backwards.”

“I want to start looking at the problems that we’ve had and move us forward, both Kosovo and Serbia, toward a greater sense of working together for the people,” Grenell concluded.

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Semini reported from Tirana, Albania

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