Cancellation of participation in Defender Europe exercises is the first consequence for Kosovo

In a meeting with a group of local media journalists, he said that the crisis is unnecessary and that it represents a step back in the process of normalizing relations with Serbia, and reminded that the words of State Secretary Antony Blinken, that this will affect the relations between Kosovo and the United States.

“The first sign of this is yesterday’s decision by the commander of US forces in Europe, Christopher Cavoli, to cancel Kosovo’s participation in the Defender Europe 2023 exercise. For Kosovo, this exercise is over,” said Ambassador Hovenier.

He said that the United States asked Prime Minister Aljbin Kurti to take steps to improve the situation in the north, but he did not respond to the requests.

“We are considering what the next steps will be. I have to say that at the moment the US does not have much enthusiasm to react to some of Kosovo’s interests, such as engaging with countries that have not recognized Kosovo, or actively working to improve Kosovo’s Euro-Atlantic and international path,” he said, expressing regret for this development. events.

He, however, expressed hope that Prime Minister Kurti would accept the American advice and immediately take steps to reduce tensions in the north.

Ambassador Hovenier said the United States has two demands from the Kosovo government: that it not insist that the presidents (who emerged from the April 23 elections boycotted by Serbian parties) work from municipal buildings and that they withdraw police officials from three municipal buildings in the north.

“We do not understand why alternative places, or other public buildings, cannot be used to perform their functions,” said Ambassador Hovenier, citing the fact that mayors of municipalities in the north were sworn in at alternative locations.

“We consider that the presence of the Kosovo police in the buildings, which they forcibly entered, is a very big challenge, so we asked the government to withdraw the police from these three municipal buildings,” he said, stressing that these actions would help reduce tensions.

Asked if Serbia’s decision to increase the combat readiness of the army poses a threat to Kosovo, the American ambassador said that it is “never a good sign” that neighboring countries, with which relations are strained, are mobilizing their forces.

“At this moment, we are concerned about the actions of the Kosovo government, which created this crisis in the north,” he said, stressing that the reduction of tensions will draw attention to the full implementation of the Agreement for the Normalization of Relations between Kosovo and Serbia, which both sides agreed to. in March.

“Both sides must implement it fully. This also solves the situation in the north. This is one of the reasons why we expect the government to urgently work on the process of forming the Community of Municipalities with a Serbian majority,” said Ambassador Hovenier.


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