On the last stop of his Balkans tour, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg visited Kosovo and met with President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.
Steinberg praised the Kosovo government for the most recent municipal elections, claiming that such elections signal the building of an inclusive democracy in Kosovo. He said that progress had been made and that Kosovo’s government made sure to include the interests of all communities in Kosovo.
Steinberg also said that the most important issues for Kosovo and all of the Western Balkans are the fight against crime and corruption and the building of economic opportunities.
Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu said that the government is ambitious and wants to fulfil the criteria and move towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
“The Kosovo government will serve in its full capacity for its people and their needs and for the Serb community as well which hesitates to be part of the major developments that Kosovo is undertaking,” Sejdiu told journalists.
Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said that he had informed Steinberg of the progress achieved by Kosovo’s government in the last two years.
“I informed Mr. Steinberg of the positive reform and reshuffling of the government and our commitment to increasing the efficiency of good governance,” Thaci said.
The U.S. deputy secretary of state will also meet with three Serb mayors elected in the most recent local elections in Kosovo and officials from the Gracanica monastery.
“This represents the strong commitment that this government has to represent all the people,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg told Sejdiu and Thaci that he looks forward to working with them and dealing with the challenges and trying to overcome the difficult issues that remain between Kosovo and Serbia.
He added that despite the differences, the US strongly supports Serbia’s future as part of the European community. He said that “we want to see a future that encompasses all of the countries of this region moving forward together.”
“So, on behalf of President Obama and Secretary Clinton I want to thank you and stress our desire to continue to work with you on these important challenges ahead,” Steinberg said.
When Steinberg was asked about what kind of pragmatic issues Kosovo and Serbia should discuss, he said: “I had very productive conversations with senior officials in Belgrade and I stressed the importance of trying to deal with pragmatic issues that exist and the steps that can be taken on a pragmatic level to foster and improve the environment between Serbia and Kosovo.
“I understood from those officials that they recognise that there is room for progress on some of these issues, even though political differences remain,” Steinberg said.