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US Lawmakers Say Kosovo Must Implement Serbia Peace Plan Before It Can Join NATO Alliance
Two US lawmakers visiting Kosovo said Pristina must implement the Western-brokered peace plan with Serbia if it wants to join the NATO alliance. The lawmakers also noted how this was also the way for Kosovo to be able to enter the European Union.
US Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Gary Peters, who belong to the foreign relations and armed services committees, respectively, visited Kosovo on Monday. Murphy told journalists outside the US Embassy in Pristina that the only way for Kosovo to enter NATO and the EU was if it implements the peace deal that was brokered in March and overseen by the bloc. Murphy added that the four NATO countries that do not recognize Kosovo’s statehood: Romania, Spain, Greece, and Slovakia, could be convinced to do so if Pristina implements the peace agreement.
“It is dependent on this agreement being done and implemented,” said Murphy.
Even though there was a deal made to normalize relations, there has been no progress in the implementation of the deal on the ground, especially in northern Kosovo, where thousands of Serbs reside in the area refuse to recognize Kosovo as an independent state. The United States is Kosovo’s major supporter politically and financially, with around 4,000 NATO troops in the area, 600 of which are from the US, to maintain the peace.
Serbia is traditionally allied with Russia, and both countries do not recognize Kosovo’s independence which was done in 2008. Belgrade still considers Kosovo its territory, and Russia has blocked Kosovo from becoming part of the United Nations.
On the same day, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told reporters in Oslo that the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius in July should be when Sweden is admitted into the alliance, following Finland’s accession in April. Sweden applied with Finland to join NATO last year as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, Stockholm’s application was held up due to opposition from both Turkey and Hungary – the only countries left to ratify Sweden’s membership.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said during the Qatar Economic Forum that relations between Hungary and Sweden must improve for Budapest to ratify Sweden’s NATO bid. Hungary cited grievances over Sweden’s criticism of Orban’s record on democracy and the rule of law.
Photo: US Institute of Peace/Wikimedia Commons(CC by 2.0)