Matthew Palmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary at US Department of State - Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and Washington's special envoy to Western Balkans, said on Thursday that one of the reasons why the European Council (EUCO) decision not to open the accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia was discouraging, was because it sent a wrong message to both Belgrade and Pristina – you can settle difficult issues, you can reach a compromise, but nevertheless you can be denied access to Europe, the Voice of America (VOA) reported.
Palmer said he expected a new government in Pristina to lift the 100 percent import tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia, while Belgrade should stop its campaign against Kosovo's membership to the international organisations.
He added that he and Richard Grenell, the White House representative for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue, would work together to normalise Kosovo – Serbia relations.
Addressing the Senate's Sub-Committee for Europe and Regional Security Cooperation, Palmer said a new Kosovo cabinet would be the first without any former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), adding he hoped that would be a good incentive.
Palmer also said he was in constant communication with Grenell who was interested in economic empowerment and believed that could bring the two sides closer in the dialogue.
"I think that ambassador Grenell will pressure both sides to act quickly. They now have the White House's attention, a full focus not only from the administration but also from the White House and the President (Donald Trump)," Palmer said.
"That," he added, "is a beneficial instrument which won't be available forever. And to use it, the sides must show they're ready to act quickly to reach agreements, to implement them and to show they're committed to the reconciliation and normalisation as we are."
Palmer said the European Union remained the chief mediator and the US did not have any formal role in the dialogue itself.
"We are here; we support the process and encourage the parties to reach that agreement. However, we want them to be aware of what is offered, why is it essential to find a solution on normalisation."
He added that support to the Balkans was not enough and said America should increase its presence and investments in the region.