US envoy for Kosovo Matthew Palmer told N1 that Washington is not one of the sides in the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue but is a stakeholder and wants to see the process succeed.
He said that the US is a partner, supporting European Union envoy Miroslav Lajcak and his team and the negotiators on the two sides to get the process started and will not be present at the talks. Palmer expressed the hope that the process will bring a normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, opening the road to the EU for both.
The Deputy Assistant Secretary of State said that the fact that he and Lajcak traveled to the region together was to show that there is only one dialogue process which the US supports. He added that a comprehensive agreement is closer because both sides are prepared to engage themselves seriously. Palmer’s impression from the meetings he and Lajcak had with top officials in Pristina is that Prime Minister Albin Kurti and his cabinet are ready to take part and have a goal. I am convinced that the necessary compromise can be reached, he said.
According to Palmer, officials in Pristina were told clearly that they are expected to take brave steps. He did not want to speculate about the outcome of the dialogue or topics of discussion, saying that the two sides should return to the table and define priorities. He said that Washington wants to see the agreements reached to date implemented.
Palmer said that there were no covert proposals made during his and Lajcak’s meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. There is no hidden agenda and I am happy to talk openly and in public about the meetings, he added. Our goal is to encourage the two sides to sit down together and say what their red lines are and decide where they want to go with our support.
He said that mutual recognition remains the final goal of US policy because Washington believes that is the way to resolve the issue. He said that US vision for Serbia and Kosovo is full integration into Europe as members of the EU. We see full mutual recognition as the best way to open the European path for both sides.
Palmer said that the non-papers that appeared in the media over the past few weeks are insignificant and do not deserve any attention.
He said that the US understands that Serbia has military cooperation with Russia but wants to be the defense and security partner that Serbia chooses because it appreciates the partnership it has with Serbia and its military and is prepared to promote it further.
Palmer said that Serbia has to achieve progress on democracy, freedom of the media and protecting civil society. He said that his meetings with Serbian opposition parties and civil society organizations are intended to show that the US supports democracy, free elections and independent media.