Tirana, December 26th 2022
The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
For the attention of:
Anthony J. Blinken
Secretary of State,
Honorable Mr. President,
The Council of the Albanian Ambassadors would like to use this opportunity to thank you and the United States of America for your continued support for Albania and the Republic of Kosovo. We are however concerned about recent developments that threaten Kosovo in particular.
The Republic of Kosovo aims to be an example of democracy and human rights protection in the Western Balkans and a provider of peace, security and stability in the region. These objectives and peace in the region are, however, still under threat. We are deeply concerned and apprehensive about the deteriorating situation in the north of Kosovo as a serious threat to peace and stability in the entire region.
Life has been paralyzed and the free movement of people curtailed by blockades set on the main roads of the north linking Kosovo and Serbia. People living in the mainly Serb populated north are facing hardship under an atmosphere of permanent intimidation and threats coming from criminal groups operating with the backing of Belgrade.
Despite efforts by the Government of Kosovo to defuse the situation and ease tensions, life in that part of Kosovo continues to be dangerous and uncertain. Those stoking the crisis inside of Kosovo are aided and abetted by the Serbian government. This constitutes a serious threat to Kosovo’s sovereignty and statehood, as well as regional peace and stability.
Serbia has been engaged in a constant hybrid war against Kosovo and its institutions while the young country has been trying to consolidate the rule of law in its northern municipalities.
Furthermore, Serbia has been acting as a proxy for Russia in our region. Serbian leadership is working from the same playbook that Russia used prior to launch its invasion against the independent and sovereign country of Ukraine in 2014. This hybrid destabilization campaign is directed against the independence, democracy, and open nature of Kosovo and against peace and security in the region.
Belgrade’s unjustifiable and unprovoked call to send 1000 Serbian soldiers into the territory of a neighboring independent country is not only an open threat against Kosovo’s sovereignty and integrity, but risks a wider conflict given NATO/KFOR’s role as the regional security guarantor.
It is long past time to counter Serbia’s relationship with Russia, which continues unabated despite the Kremlin’s on-going brutal assault on Ukraine. Serbia has imported heavy weaponry from Russia for the last several years in violation of U.S. sanctions law. Serbia signed a significant foreign policy agreement with Russia only three short months ago. And Serbia is the only European country, other than Belarus, which hasn’t implemented sanctions on Russia.
We are also increasingly concerned by Serbia’s expanding relationship with China. Serbia is now importing weapons from China and has purchased an air-defense system and armed military drones from Beijing.
We remain perplexed by the continued acquiescence with which the United States and the EU deal with Serbia and hope to see a reconsideration of your approach in favor of one which holds Belgrade accountable. The rhetoric now used by the Serbian leadership in Belgrade is a reminder of a past that must not be permitted to recur. The scenarios used by Milosevic regime during the 90s against the rest of Yugoslavia are being replayed. President Aleksandar Vučić, who served as Milosevic’s Minister of Information, today leads a Serbian message machine that directs its phony victimization and hate-filled propaganda against Kosovo.
As an independent country, the Republic of Kosovo has made tremendous progress in its path to building viable democratic institutions and a vibrant democracy, in which human liberties and the rule of law prevail. Today in Kosovo, ethnic minorities enjoy unparalleled individual and collective rights in keeping with the highest international standards. In a region in which acute inter and intra state problems exist, the situation in most of Kosovo is stable and does not threaten regional peace and security.
The Kosovan government has engaged in the Dialogue with Serbia with full commitment and dedication. We would like to see implementation of the agreements signed so far as a sign of good will and dedication for continued efforts to reaching normalization between the two countries that would increase stability and cooperation throughout the region.
The Council of Albanian Ambassadors supports this process and hopes that it will be finalized with mutual diplomatic recognition between Serbia and Kosovo as two independent and sovereign neighboring countries. Regardless of our present concerns about Serbian policy, we fervently hope that both countries will eventually be admitted into the European Union and NATO. We welcome the engagement of your Administration to advance the EU-facilitated dialogue.
We firmly believe that the outcome of the EU-facilitated dialogue should comply with the agreed principles for the settlement of the final status of Kosovo, as enshrined in the documents of the Contact Group that monitored and supervised international policy in Kosovo, as well as the Comprehensive Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement, also known as “the Ahtisaari Plan.”
Those guiding principles provide for the territorial integrity of the Republic of Kosovo within its internationally recognized borders and preservation of the multi-ethnic character of the state. Approaches based on the notion of re-drawing or shifting borderlines along ethnic lines have the potential to undermine the stability of Kosovo and other multi-ethnic countries throughout the world.
That is why, Mr. President, we are asking for your attention to the developing situation, in order to create a safe environment by pressing Serbia and its allies in northern Kosovo to remove all the obstacles and blockades, and allow a fast return to normal conditions that would facilitate progress in the EU-facilitated Dialogue.
Please, Mr. President, accept the assurances of our highest consideration.
Council of Albanian Ambassadors