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In joining NATO Kosovo must first implement Serbia peace deal: U.S. senators

Kosovo must implement a Western-brokered peace deal with Serbia if it wants to achieve its goal of joining the NATO military alliance, two U.S. senators visiting Pristina said on Monday, May 22.

U.S. Democratic senators Chris Murphy, a member of the foreign relations committee, and Gary Peters, who sits on the armed services committee, urged the two countries to act quickly on the accord reached in March with European Union mediation. They are part of a congressional delegation visiting the Balkans.

“The pathway (for Kosovo) to NATO and to the European Union runs through an agreement with Serbia. That’s a hard fact,” Murphy told journalists at the U.S. embassy in Pristina.

Wheels down in Kosovo. I’m in the Balkans this week w @SenGaryPeters.

I pressed my good friends Prime Minister Kurti and President Osmani to move forward quickly on establishing the Association of Serb Municipalities, a key element of normalization w Serbia.

— Chris Murphy 🟧 (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 22, 2023
Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, is not recognised as a state by four NATO members: Romania, Spain, Greece and Slovakia.

Murphy said the four could be convinced to accept Kosovo in NATO if differences with Serbia were settled. “It is dependent on this agreement being done and implemented,” he said.

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Despite a deal in March to normalize relations, there has been no progress on the ground especially in northern Kosovo where some 50,000 Serbs still do not accept Kosovo’s statehood.

Washington is Kosovo’s main supporter, both politically and financially. There are currently around 4,000 NATO troops in Kosovo, of whom 600 are from the United States to maintain the fragile peace there.

Serbia and its traditional ally Russia do not recognise Kosovo’s independence, and Moscow has blocked the country’s bid to become a member of the United Nations. Belgrade still considers Kosovo as part of its territory.

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