Bronx, NY— Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement:

“The resumption of dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia this week in Washington, DC is a positive development. Conflict between the two countries has gone on too long and harmed the lives of too many. It has held up the region’s development and stymied its full integration into Europe. It’s long past time to end the dispute once and for all.

“A final resolution to the conflict must embrace several key principles: It must lead to mutual recognition by Kosovo and Serbia. It must pave the way for Kosovo and Serbia to enter all North Atlantic structures, including the European Union and NATO. And, it must grant Kosovo full membership in the United Nations and other important international organizations so that it can move forward as every other country would.

“But, a clear eyed view of the talks gives way to the reality that a conflict-ending deal is unlikely. Serbian President Vucic, who is leading his country away from the North Atlantic community and closer to Russia, has objected to placing mutual recognition on the table. In fact, the Serbian delegation says it’s coming to the talks only to discuss economic matters. While there is nothing negative about increased trade and economic development, this is a political conflict which requires a political solution.

“Moreover, there is still scant justice for the victims of the ethnic cleansing, rape, and other war crimes, including the American citizen Bytyci brothers, perpetrated more than two decades ago by the Milosevic Government, in which President Vucic was a minister. There must be accountability for the perpetrators so that people in both countries can embrace the future.

“I am encouraged that the head of Kosovo’s delegation to the talks, Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, has set a clear and workable goal for the negotiations: “reaching an agreement on mutual recognition, without jeopardizing the territorial integrity of Kosovo.” Kosovo deserves a normal future where its people can travel freely and stand shoulder to shoulder with those of the world’s democracies, including the United States.

“After more than two decades of hostility, it is my hope that both parties will engage constructively with each other and that the United States will act as a fair and honest broker to help the nations embrace the dialogue and reach peace.” 

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