Pristina defying Washington, letter with US demand to suspend taxes arrived exactly a year ago
The letter that the US sent at the time to Hashim Thaci, Ramush Haradinaj and Kadri Veseli was signed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Cooper, and Principal Director or European Affairs, National Security Council John Erath
Exactly one year ago, on February 11, 2019, the US administration sent the first formal letter to representatives of provisional Pristina institutions requesting the abolition of the 100 percent taxes (tariffs) on Serbian products, while that decision made by Pristina is still in effect, with no clear idea when it might be annulled.
The letter that the US sent at the time to Hashim Thaci, Ramush Haradinaj and Kadri Veseli was signed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Laura Cooper, and Principal Director or European Affairs, National Security Council John Erath.
The demand for the abolition of the taxes was very clear, as well as a warning that, until that happens, relations with the Kosovo authorities would not be restored, while the possibility of reconsidering other, not only security, cooperation with Pristina was mentioned.
Given that Pristina leaders' response to these requests was very lukewarm, President Trump and other senior State Department officials have repeatedly spoken on the same subject. The past ten days have witnessed new direct demands for the abolition of the taxes given to the new Kosovo government, led by Albin Kurti, by Richard Grenell, a personal envoy of the US president, but the impression is that the effect is not much greater than it was in the previous year.
In any case, the introduction of these taxes has had a profound effect on the already fragile relations between Belgrade and Pristina and has completely halted dialogue and attempts to reach an agreement on mutual relations.
The following is the full content of the letter sent by Washington to Kosovo leaders on February 11, 2019:
"As President Trump wrote in his December 2018 letter, this is a moment of opportunity to advance Kosovo' future as a stable, prosperous, and secure country by normalizing relations with Serbia and taking a key step toward integration with Euro-Atlantic institutions.
We have since expressed our concerns that certain actions, including the imposition of tariffs on Serbian and Bosnian products, could threaten this goal. These actions undermine the United State' ability to continue to collaborate with you on a wide range of shared objectives.
After our request to suspend the tariffs went unheeded, we have decided to take steps to show our concern, including with regard to our security partnership.
To begin with, we have chosen to cancel the planned travel of Iowa National Guard General Orr to Kosovo. His visit was intended to focus on bilateral security cooperation. Given the unhelpful actions your government ha taken, it would be inappropriate for such a visit to occur. we will be looking carefully at other aspects of our cooperations and reviewing if they should also be curtailed.
Kosovo has no better friend than the United States. we have worked for many years to realize a future in which the people of Kosovo can live as they choose, in peace. Kosovo's struggle for freedom captured the imagination of Americans. Thousands of US diplomats and soldiers have been personally involved in trying to build a future for Kosovo.
It is incredible that after all we have done together, Kosovo values our friendship so lightly as to ingore our advice.
The United States continues to stand ready to hel and suppor Koovo to reach a comrehensive normalization agreement with Serbia, centered on mutual recognition, which is durable, implementable and benefits both sides.
For the last 20 years, this has been an impossible goal. Although still difficult, it is a road that must be traveled to reach a future of security and prosperity.
Our intent is to see that Serbia, and well as KOsovoo, acts responsibly to get the dialogue process back on track.
The first step on this road must be suspending the tariffs. Until you have done so, we cannot restore our relations to our previous robust level."
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