Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci, says U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has pledged that the United States will be directly involved in reaching a final agreement to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Thaci told VOA’s Albanian service after meeting with Pence on Friday at the White House that “Pence will be focused and maximally involved” in reaching a deal between the two countries.
“I believe that this willingness of the U.S. administration and personally of Vice President Pence is a guarantee for the success of this process,” Thaci said.
He said he is confident the process will “lead Kosovo into a final agreement of normalization and reconciliation of Kosovo-Serbia relations and would open prospects for Kosovo’s integration into the United Nations.”
A White House statement Friday said Pence “expressed appreciation for Thaci’s leadership, along with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, to advance the EU-facilitated dialog to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia.”
The White House said Pence and Thaci “agreed on the importance of advancing reforms to strengthen the rule of law, fight corruption and boost economic growth” and said Pence reaffirmed the “United States’ support for a sovereign, democratic and prosperous Kosovo.”
The White House also encouraged Kosovo to ratify the border demarcation agreement with neighboring Montenegro “to resolve this long-standing issue.”
Thaci told VOA that Pence called on Kosovo to solve the issues as soon as possible. He said Kosovo has “good neighborly relations with Montenegro” and stressed the importance of such ties.
“No one can support you if you build bad relationships with your neighbors. We have a lot of problems with Serbia. We cannot open other problems with our neighbors that could cost us the integration processes” with the European Union, he said.
Thaci said the issue is in the hands of Kosovo’s parliament.
The border agreement was signed in 2015 but has not had sufficient support in Kosovo’s parliament for ratification.
The European Union insists Kosovo must approve the border demarcation deal before its citizens enjoy visa-free travel within Europe.
Montenegro has recognized Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia, but Serbia vehemently opposes it.
VOA’s Albanian service contributed to this report.