US diplomats broker Kosovo-Serbia airline

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 21, 2020 10:32

US diplomats broker Kosovo-Serbia airline

Story Highlights

  • The agreement was signed by Milun Trivunac, secretary of state at the Serbian Ministry of Economy and Eset Berisha, director of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority at the US embassy in Berlin, in the presence of Ambassador Richard Grenell, Donald Trump's special US envoy for the Kosovo - Serbia peace talks and National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien.

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TIRANA, Jan. 20 – US diplomats brokered on Monday the signing of an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia on the reopening of the Pristina-Belgrade airline in a bid to improve economic ties between the two countries.

The agreement was signed by Milun Trivunac, secretary of state at the Serbian Ministry of Economy and Eset Berisha, director of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority at the US embassy in Berlin, in the presence of Ambassador Richard Grenell, Donald Trump’s special US envoy for the Kosovo – Serbia peace talks and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.

O’Brien was quoted as saying the agreement signed by representatives of both countries represented a “historic agreement,” while stressing that there had been no such flights between Kosovo and Serbia for 21 years.

The flights will be operated by the German airline Lufthansa.

Grenell wrote that “the US president, Donald Trump, has once again provided us with a historic victory. Kosovo and Serbia signed an agreement today to deploy the first flight between Pristina and Belgrade in 21 years.”

In Pristina, Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci, welcomed the request to open the Pristina-Belgrade airline, describing it as an important step in the process of normalizing relations between the two countries.

“I welcome Lufthansas’ request to open an airline between Pristina and Belgrade. This is an important step in the movement of citizens and the process of normalization. I am grateful to Councilor Robert O’Brien and Ambassador Richard Grenell for pushing this process forward,” Thaci wrote on social media.

Meanwhile, outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said that “the initiative to open a third civil airline for commercial flights with Serbia, after having it with Albania and Northern Macedonia, is a major step in promoting good neighborly relations and consolidating Kosovo’s sovereignty.” 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also welcomed the intention of the German company Lufthansa.

“This is an important step that will facilitate the movement of people and goods in the Western Balkans region. The commander of our KFOR mission holds the authority for Kosovo airspace under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244. NATO will remain involved in the long process of normalizing air traffic in the Balkans. Mr. Stoltenberg’s reaction.

The Director of the Kosovo Civil Aviation Authority Eset Berisha, is quoted in a statement from his office as saying that this places the contact between the two civil aviation authorities, that of Kosovo and Serbia, as equal partners.

“This is the first step towards the full normalization of Kosovo’s airspace and the opening of air corridors to all states around it. This will most benefit the citizens of Kosovo who use Pristina Airport services,” Berisha was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, the director of the office for Kosovo in the Serbian government, Marko Djuric, said the airline could come into being after lifting the full tariff from Serbian products in Kosovo and resuming talks between Belgrade and Pristina.

The 100 per cent tariffs on Serbian goods were imposed in November 2018 by the Kosovo government in opposition to the Serbian campaign against Kosovo’s independence.

Serbia conditioned the resumption of talks with their abolition, while Pristina resisted international pressure to suspend them.

Monday’s agreement is the first signed between the two countries without the presence of the European Union, which facilitates talks on normalizing relations between them.

It is also the first achievement in relations between the two countries since Ambassador Grenell was involved in the negotiation process between Kosovo and Serbia.

 

US President calls Kosovo-Serbia airline “a victory”

 

US President Donald Trump called the deal between Kosovo and Serbia a victory in establishing direct flights between the two countries.

In a Twitter post Monday night, President Trump wrote that nobody thought it was possible. 

“Everyone said it would be done. But for the first time in a generation, there will be direct flights between Serbia and Kosovo. Another win. Thanks to @WHNSC Ambassador Robert O’Brien and Ambassador @RichardGrenell!,” Trump wrote on Twitter. 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 21, 2020 10:32