Ambassador’s Statement to the Press Following the Embassy-hosted Discussion on ASM in Kosovo

Ambassador’s Statement to the Press Following the Embassy-hosted Discussion on ASM in Kosovo, 31, January 2023

Today, we hosted a meeting at the U.S. Embassy with a diverse group to discuss an Association of Serb-majority Municipalities in Kosovo.

Inclusive democracy requires the respectful exchange of ideas.  We organized this discussion with a variety of stakeholders to hear the diversity of views on this topic and to seek common ground, with the goal of facilitating and advancing the Government of Kosovo’s obligations to implement an ASM.

We heard firsthand the views of participants on the implementation of an ASM and how this can be accomplished in a manner that ensures Kosovo’s future as a sovereign, independent, multiethnic, and democratic country. These perspectives are important to advancing Kosovo’s progress on its path to European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Participants included government officials, civil society representatives, political leaders, and members of the diplomatic corps.

Our partnership with Kosovo is steadfast. Today’s conversation reflected our deep and long-standing friendship with the people of Kosovo.

We wanted to understand participants’ perspectives on an ASM: what it could be and how it can deliver for Kosovan citizens, but also, what capacities it can’t or shouldn’t have.

Our discussion was therefore centered on three themes.

First, how can an ASM function in practice?

  • Participants raised a range of topics including views on possible responsibilities and potential limitations of an ASM.

Second, how can an ASM function under Kosovo’s legal framework?

  • We heard perspectives on the Brussels Agreement and the 2015 Constitutional Court decision.

Third, how can an ASM contribute to economic development and effective delivery of government services for the Kosovan Serb and other minority communities?

  • We heard views on how an ASM can help address issues and needs that are fundamental to any community as well as functions for which all municipalities of Kosovo are responsible, such as education, health care, and local economic development.

Today’s discussion reflects the importance the United States and our partners place on Kosovo implementing an Association of Serb-majority Municipalities that complies with Kosovo’s Constitution and the 2015 Constitutional Court decision.

While several U.S. officials have already made this point, I also want to be clear about the position of the United States.  We do not support any arrangement that violates Kosovo’s Constitution, that is inconsistent with the 2015 Constitutional Court decision, or that would threaten Kosovo’s sovereignty, independence, multiethnic character, or democratic institutions.  We strictly oppose the creation of any entity resembling Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We expect Kosovo to follow through on its obligations.  We ask the Government of Kosovo to provide its own vision for an ASM that it believes protects Kosovo’s future as a sovereign, independent, multiethnic, democratic state and that provides for minority rights consistent with the Brussels Agreements and Kosovo’s Constitution.  This is critical, important, and urgent.  We stand ready to provide expertise and political support to ensure that it works in the best interest of all Kosovans.

Today’s exchange of views surfaced stakeholder ideas that are crucial to ensuring that an ASM will be responsive to the needs of the communities it is intended to serve.

Members of the government now have the opportunity to take what was said and factor these perspectives into the government’s work on this important issue.

We hope this discussion will inspire renewed commitment and reinvigorated efforts to work towards establishment of an ASM, which we consider to be critical as Kosovo builds its rightful future as a sovereign, multiethnic, democratic, and independent country that is fully integrated into European and Euro-Atlantic structures.  The United States shares this vision with the people of Kosovo and will continue to stand with them as friends and allies.