Power: Kosovo and Serbia should focus on the obligations from the agreement on the normalization of relations
The administrator of the American Agency for International Development, Samantha Power, said on Friday that the process of normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia should be concluded with mutual recognition, while she emphasized the importance that the parties focus now on the obligations arising from the agreement on normalization of relations, such as the establishment of the Association of municipalities with a Serbian majority.
She made these comments on the second day of her visit to Kosovo, during which, together with the Prime Minister, Albin Kurti and the Minister of Economy, Artane Rizvanolli, she opened Kosovo’s first auction for a solar energy park with a capacity of 100 megawatts.
“The focus of the United States of America is on the implementation of the framework for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. It has always been the position of the United States that this should result in mutual recognition, and of course that continues to be our position. But for now we have a special focus on the importance of the association of municipalities with a Serbian majority as well as the importance of returning Kosovo Serbs to institutions as soon as possible”, she said.
Ms. Power said that the political choices of the future are very difficult while underlining that progress on issues such as the establishment of the Association would pave the way for progress on many other issues.
“I think you see the unity between the European Union and the United States. We have also made it very clear through US Department Counsel Derek Chollet and US envoy Gabriel Escobar what the principles are on which we believe any association should be founded. We are confident that honesty and clarity on this issue will pave the way for meaningful progress on many other important issues in the coming days,” said Ms. Power.
The Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, reiterated the position that the agreement on the normalization of relations with Serbia must be implemented in its entirety, without delays and without conditions.
“11 articles in the basic agreement, 12 points in the implementation annex and this must be fully implemented without delays and without conditions. This is what will be discussed at the next meeting in Brussels”, said Prime Minister Kurti.
The chief negotiators of Kosovo and Serbia, Besnik Bislimi and Petar Petkovic, are expected to meet on Monday of the coming week in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the agreement for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Mrs. Power emphasized the commitment of the United States to help Kosovo increase economic development and strengthen democracy, as well as to take, as she said, “the place it belongs to in the Euro-Atlantic institutions”.
Ms. Power is staying in Kosovo after a visit to Serbia, where she pledged United States support for Serbia and Kosovo as the two wartime foes work to stabilize relations at a time of heightened tensions.
The European Union has spent 12 years facilitating negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo. Kosovo declared independence in 2008, but Serbia does not recognize its citizenship.
Both countries have been told they must normalize relations in order to make progress in their bid to join the European Union. The parties have agreed to support an EU plan on the issue, but tensions remain high.
The solar energy park is expected to supply about 20 thousand families
Prime Minister Kurti, appreciating the essential role of the American Agency for International Development, said that the assistance of this agency for the energy sector in Kosovo is of special importance.
He emphasized that the world energy crisis that followed the Russian aggression in Ukraine in 2022 has already proven that energy security is national security.
“The path towards which we have started is that of independence from the fossil materials of the autocratic states, which boasted the energy dependence of Europe. The growing threats of climate change make the energy transition even more urgent. We are making this journey with our friend, reliable partner, powerful ally – the United States of America, which has already proven itself in terms of our overall development,” he said.
Minister Rizvanolli said that suitable conditions have been created for both local and foreign investors for the construction of this park, which according to estimates will be able to supply electricity to about 20 thousand families.
“We have made sure to offer a number of critical advantages including identifying and securing suitable land, guaranteed purchase price and simple administrative procedures. Beyond the technical criteria and investment opportunities, we have met all the conditions for companies that want to invest in Kosovo to have a serious, fair and transparent partner”, said Mrs. Rizvanolli, underlining that “this result comes thanks to the stable cooperation between the government of Kosovo with one of our essential development partners – USAID, whose contribution is irreplaceable for our energy sector and beyond”.
Mrs. Power said that the opening of the auction is a powerful symbol of the direction that Kosovo’s economy is taking.
“Fortunately, we have seen a very strong and important commitment of Kosovo’s leaders to start a transformation of the energy sector. I hope that Kosovo will serve as a model for other countries to work in similar directions. “Kosovo has started this journey by setting clear, ambitious but achievable goals in its energy strategy, in the development of which USAID was pleased to help,” she said.
Kosovo currently fulfills most of its electricity needs from two old thermal power plants that work with lignite coal and are considered harmful to the environment, while experts in the field continuously point out that long-term steps should lead Kosovo to transition to renewable energy.