Trump and Kosovo: what is the deal?
The current US President and Republican candidate Donald Trump promised a lot during the pre-election campaign before the 2016 presidential elections. He was expected to make a radical turn when it comes to American foreign policy. However, after he had defeated his opponent, the Democratic Party presidential candidate and former US president Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary, things started to go downhill for him and the US.
Immediately after coming to power, Donald Trump, despite the promises to smooth the relations with Russia, kept the sanctions against that state previously imposed by the administration of his predecessor Barack Obama. He disrupted relations with Mexico in the first days of his mandate by setting out to build a wall on the border to allegedly prevent illegal immigrants from crossing over to the USA. Right after, he ordered a hasty air attack on the Syrian army under the pretext that the Syrian Army forces were planning a chemical attack. As for the Balkans, Donald Trump’s first move was to sign an agreement on Montenegro’s accession to NATO, despite Trump’s not so very positive attitude towards this banana state and its regime. American diplomacy has so far been a complete fiasco in Latin America and the Middle East.
The negative campaign against China hasn’t yielded any results, they’ve failed to overthrow Kim Jong Un from power in North Korea, while the Syrian President Bashar Assad is establishing control over the entire territory; in addition to that, most of the American forces have withdrawn from Syria, and the so-called US-backed military formations Syrian democratic forces also failed to fulfill the goal of taking over the country militarily.
As his presidential term is coming to an end, Donald Trump has been facing internal problems, the corona virus pandemic, which Trump tried to deny unsuccessfully, as well as nationwide protest and civil unrest due to police brutality and racism. The pandemic is still claimimg tens of thousands of victims, and the number of American citizens who have lost their jobs is so far estimated at hundreds of thousands. Faced with all these problems on the eve of the election, Trump began to take an interest in solving a problem that his predecessors had constructed and directed — the Kosovo problem.
In the midst of the corona virus pandemic, the American president appointed a special envoy for Kosovo, Richard Grenell. The European Union also appointed its representative, Miroslav Lajcak. Lajcak is known among Serbs for his extremely anti-Serb sentiment (he was the head of the monitoring mission in Montenegro, which recognized the results of the controversial independence referendum in 2006, as well as the High Representative in BiH where he also appeared as an ally of the Federation of BiH against Republic of Srpska), and the mere appointment of Grenell is a clear enough indication that there is no longer any coordination between the EU and the US. After Grenell’s appointment, the President of the USA invited Serbian President, Aleksandar Vučić, and the President of the so-called Kosovo Hashim Thaci to a meeting in Washington to present his «solution» to the Kosovo problem.
The meeting was scheduled for June 27, 2020. Trump only announced that he had a solution, but did not state which one. He mentioned «two states», thus confirming his predecessors’ continuity in recognizing this quasi-creation as a republic, which is according to the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia and UN Resolution 1244, as well as all international legal norms still a part of the Republic of Serbia.
Immediately after the call, the American newspaper «Wall Street Journal» stated that the American president wants to solve the Kosovo problem before the American elections in order to improve his foreign policy credibility. Despite the twin crisis in the nationwide protests and the spread of the coronavirus, President Trump hopes to secure a long-elusive formal peace treaty in a region that has been a flashpoint for superpower rivarlries, to improve his foreign policy credentials. But a new opening of talks between Kosovo and neighboring Serbia, an ally of Russia, are already causing controversy in Europe, where diplomats believe that the European Union could find itself in trouble,» the text says.
Experts think that resolving the Kosovo problem ahead of the US elections would help Trump’s campaign, since talks with North Korea and pressure on Iran have so far yielded limited results. A successful outcome would expand US influence in the Balkans, where China and Russia are, according to the text, «competing aggressively for influence», especially since the beginning of the pandemic, the paper said.
A prominent Serbian and Yugoslav diplomat and former foreign minister of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), Vladislav Jovanovic, expressed a fear that Serbia could be pressured into recognizing Kosovo and abandoning Resolution 1244. Jovanovic, expressing an opinion similar to the one in WSJ article, said the dialogue was aimed at raising Trump’s rating ahead of the US election.
«In the pre-election campaign, Trump needs to show American foreign policy success to the US public, and it might be that Kosovo, as a relatively minor problem, could serve him as a kind of trophy. That’s why he might react impatiently and impose pressure to meet those intentions»- said Jovanović.
The diplomat estimates that Serbia should not put itself in a defensive position, but that it must start from its own platform, expand the conversation field and gain greater understanding and sympathy.
Jovanovic believes that the US should be reminded of Resolution 1244, which was not implemented in the parts that concern Serbia’s interests, primarily the Serbs who were expelled from Kosovo by the Albanians and their return to homes. According to him, Serbia should use facts that Trump may not know, and which would put Washington in a different situation.
«We should remind Trump, who may not know that Washington demanded that the new FYR government request an immediate admission to the UN, as well as its all ex republics, a year and a half after the end of the aggression and adoption of Resolution 1244»- stated Jovanović.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić then confirmed his presence at the meeting in Washington, and shortly afterwards the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci as well. However, ahead of the meeting, Thaci was summoned to The Hague for questioning by the Special Prosecutor’s Office for War Crimes of the so-called KLA and their crimes against the Serb and non-Albanian population in Kosovo during 1998 and 1999. Immediately after that, the representatives of the Kosovo Albanians announced that they would not participate in the meeting, and the American representative Grenell said that they «understood their decision» and that the meeting was postponed. The Serbian side said it had not received any letter or official announcement that the meeting had been canceled.
All in all, no one mentions the meeting anymore. In the midst of protests in USA and economic crises caused by the pandemic, which continues to create problems for the entire planet, it can be seen that American policy is collapsing both internally and externally. Therefore, it is not impossible that Trump mentioned solving the Kosovo problem exclusively as a card up his sleeve to raise his rating before the election, without any intention to solve the problem.
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