The US President’s special envoy Ambassador Richard Grenell told NewsMax that Serbia and Kosovo deserve vibrant economies but warned that Western companies aren’t willing to expand in the region because of the perceived conflict.
“The people of Kosovo and Serbia deserve to have a vibrant economy and I’m always optimistic that we can do more,” he said adding that “western companies should be able to expand in this region“ but aren’t because that there’s a perceived conflict.
Grenell explained that the White House is “trying to do is upend the political process by just focusing on the economics and job creation”. He recalled that Belgrade and Pristina reached agreements on air, road and rail traffic. “We took these three historic agreements and furthered them and tried to get the two sides to come together to do economic normalization,” he said.
The ambassador said that President Donald Trump saw the political conflict and asked how the two sides were doing economically. “When we found out that the economics were stuck as much as the politics President Trump said let’s try to focus on the economies and see if we can change that dynamic and that will ultimately change the politics on both sides,” he said adding that he asked if the politicians would reject politics and just think about creating jobs for young people after 20 years of political fights. “If the economies are good the political fights become fewer,” he said.
“I think we’ve been trying the same thing politically for a long time with politicians around the table … that’s a recipe for disaster. We’re trying to flip it and focus on the economics of the region with job creation as the focus. The private sector community in Kosovo and Serbia have been very excited about this,” the ambassador said. According to Grenell, anything that relates to job creation should be put in the agreement.
Asked about the claims of surprises at the start of the talks, Grenell said that there are surprises in all negotiations. “Surprises are good. They press the sides to do more. We had some surprises but I don’t think either side was that surprised. They like to pretend before the media that they are more surprised than they actually are,” he said.