After decades of strife and a war that has claimed 13,000 lives, Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic met at the Trump White House to sign an historic economic pact between the warring nations to normalize their economic relations Friday.
Trump envoy Richard Grenell brokered the deal, bringing the two sides to the table to put their political differences aside and commit to measures that will transport infrastructure and border crossings, cut trade tariffs and share energy and water resources, according to Agence France-Presse.
“A truly historic day,” Trump said from the Oval Office, praising Grenell’s diplomatic success.
The White House summit was originally scheduled for June, but was cancelled after Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, who was to lead the Kosovo delegation, was indicted for war crimes by an international court.
Thaci encouraged the “Kosovo delegation to make courageous steps towards peace, reconciliation and economic prosperity.”
Serbia and Kosovo signed parallel statements of intent rather than a formal bilateral agreement because the two nations do not formally recognize each other. Serbia has refused to recognize its former territory since Kosovo declared independence in 2008.
The two nations further agreed to improve relations with Israel; Serbia will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and Muslim Kosovo will recognize the Jewish State.
“By focusing on job creation and economic growth, the two countries were able to reach a real breakthrough on economic cooperation across a broad range of issues,” Trump said of the agreement. “It took decades because you didn’t have anybody trying to get it done,” Trump said of the agreement.
Hoti said the deal was “a big step” towards the two sides granting each other formal diplomatic recognition.
Vucic said the Serbians had struck a bilateral agreement “with the US,” so that no recognition was given to “third party” Kosovo.
“There is a clear commitment from President Trump and his administration that all these projects begin to be implemented within a year,” said Hoti.
Kosovo and Serbia meanwhile agreed to suspend their bitter fight over Kosovo’s international status for one year to allow the economic agreements to be implemented.
Although many countries, including the United States and European powers, recognize both, Serbian allies China and Russia have withheld their endorsement of the Kosovo state, preventing it from joining the United Nations, according to the Associated Press.
Israel and the United Arab Emirates will sign their historic deal normalizing relations at a White House ceremony on September 15, 2020, White House officials said yesterday.