Sunday, September 06, 2020

Trump Oversees ‘Breakthrough’ Serbia-Kosovo Agreement to Normalize Economic Relations

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic (seated at left) and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti (right) at the White House, September 4, 2020. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Kosovo will recognize Israel, and Serbia will move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump announced Friday after he oversaw a “breakthrough” agreement to normalize economic relations between Kosovo and Serbia.

Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovan prime minister Avdullah Hoti inked the Belgrade-Pristina deal during a joint visit to the White House on Thursday, more than a decade after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. 

“Today, I am pleased to announce yet another historic commitment,” Trump said in a statement. “Serbia and Kosovo have each committed to economic normalization. After a violent and tragic history and years of failed negotiations, my Administration proposed a new way of bridging the divide. By focusing on job creation and economic growth, the two countries were able to reach a real breakthrough on economic cooperation across a broad range of issues.”

The president also announced that Kosovo, a mainly Muslim country that had not previously recognized Israel, would establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish state soon and that Serbia is aiming to move its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, as the U.S. has done, by July 2021.

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“It has taken tremendous bravery by President Vučić of Serbia and Prime Minister Hoti of Kosovo to embark on these talks and to come to Washington to finalize these commitments,” Trump said. “By doing so, they have made their countries, the Balkans, and the world safer. I look forward to seeing Serbia and Kosovo prosper as we work together on economic cooperation in the region going forward.”

Vučić said the countries “haven’t resolved all our problems, but this is a huge step forward.”

 “This is a great moment for the region,” Hoti said.

The agreement comes weeks after Trump announced a deal to open up relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

BRITTANY BERNSTEIN is a news writer for National Review Online.