Vucic, Hoti and Trump sign agreement to normalise economic relations

During a meeting hosted by the White House in Washington, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti signed an agreement with US President Donald Trump on normalising economic relations between the two countries. EURACTIV Serbia looks at how the leaders reacted to the agreement.

For more details, also read “Serbia, Kosovo sign pact at White House“.

President Vučić presented the agreement with Pristina, explaining to reporters that it involved Kosovo’s participation in the new Balkans “mini-Schengen” initiative, and a feasibility study on the division of Lake Gazivode’s energy resources and infrastructure projects.

While Trump said the agreement signed in the Oval Office on Friday (4 September) was “a very important step that required tremendous bravery from the two great leaders, Vučić and Hoti,” US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that “a very important agreement on economic ties” had been signed.

The US president’s special envoy for the Belgrade-Priština dialogue, Richard Grenell, said that Trump had insisted from the beginning that “economic ties should be developed first.”

Serbia’s Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, said on Saturday in Belgrade that, if fully implemented, the agreement would foster a better relationship between Serbs and Albanians, contribute to “a more stable and prosperous region”, and that it could also pave the way toward a better relationship between Serbia and the US.

Brnabić said that references in the document to new Serbian state offices in Jerusalem, 5G network technology and the diversification of Serbia’s energy supply were not traps for Serbia and that “every word that the Serbian delegation said was well-thought-out.”

Commenting on the part of the agreement that says “both parties will diversify their energy supplies”, Brnabić said that “the Americans wanted Serbia to use US natural gas more, but President Vučić said that we could not shift to a more expensive gas supply and expose citizens to new costs.”

“Nothing was clearly defined (in the agreement), which allows Serbia to create a more strategic partnership with the US without compromising the country’s cooperation with China and the Russian Federation… The agreement opens a new door, without closing all others,” the Serbian PM said.

For his part, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić said on Saturday (5 September) that the agreement signed in Washington was both part of the US’ foreign and internal policy.

Dačić commented that it was important for Israel and the US that Kosovo opened an embassy in Jerusalem, adding that this hadn’t been done for Kosovo but for Israel.

Commenting on Serbia’s pledge to move its embassy from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv by July 2021 Dačić said that “this has yet to be discussed.”

“Whether it will happen and when, you heard President Vučić – our actions will depend on our relations with Israel and the development of bilateral ties,” he added.

Opposition Party of Freedom and Justice president Dragan Đilas said on Sunday that the agreement which envisages moving Serbia’s embassy to Jerusalem “isn’t just Vučić abandoning the joint position of all countries in the world, other than the US and Guatemala, it is also Vučić violating a resolution of the UN Security Council, painting a target for Islamic terrorists on Serbia and turning his back on Europe for who knows what time.”


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