Escobar: The Franco-German proposal offers the possibility for stable relations between the two countries

Gabrijel Eskobar
Source: Kosovo Online

The Deputy Assistant Secretary, and Special US Envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, said that he had read the Franco-German proposal and that it "offers the possibility for stable relations between Serbia and Kosovo".

"I have read that plan. It offers possibilities for stable relations between the two countries, it is realistic," Escobar said.

When asked whether, as stated by the Kosovo Prime Minister, an agreement could be reached by the spring of next year, Escobar stated that it did not depend on the US.

"It depends on the dialogue process and the EU, but I think we will be able to see the skeleton of an agreement emerging over the next year."

At an online conference organized by the Atlantic Council of United States, Escobar said that the CSM should and would be implemented.

He said that it was "a binding legal obligation of Kosovo, Serbia, and the EU, and as the US supported the dialogue, so did Washington".

"It should and will be implemented. The government in Pristina should see it as an opportunity. There are examples in Europe and if you look there is a way to do it and it is an opportunity for both countries. The population of 70,000 Serbs in the north is a challenge, they are at the center of tensions and conflicts and we must look at models that will work for them. They should be provided with the protection of the institutions in Kosovo but also allowed to participate in the political and economic life of Serbia. If we do not solve this issue, we will be constantly in a cycle of tensions and violence," Escobar said.

When asked if there was a deadline for reaching an agreement, the US diplomat said "as soon as possible".

"It does not help anyone to have a frozen conflict and that it is the only frozen conflict in Europe".

Escobar highlighted US support for Kosovo, saying that no country in the world supported Kosovo more than the United States.

"I consider the agreement reached by Serbia and Kosovo on license plates important for reducing tensions. Our position has always been that instead of working on individual issues that create tensions, all these issues should be part of the dialogue under the auspices of the EU," Escobar said. 

When asked if the US would take the lead in that process, Escobar said:

"I don't believe that would happen. The dialogue should be conducted in the EU; all countries have aspirations towards EU membership. We cooperate very closely with our European partners".

Escobar pointed out that the US and the EU together had managed to prevent violence in the past two years.

"I encourage Serbia to impose sanctions on Russia"

The US diplomat also said that the US would also like to see "the alignment of Serbia's politics with EU politics".

"This is Serbia's obligation as a candidate for the EU. Serbia has come a long way with the EU and I encourage Serbia to impose sanctions and to be more demonstrative of European values. I cannot say that Serbia has not done anything, it voted against Russia in the UN, and that was not only symbolic but important. Serbia also supported some humanitarian efforts regarding Ukrainian refugees," Escobar said.

The US Deputy Assistant Secretary and Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, said that he personally "encourages Serbia to impose sanctions on Russia".