DioGuardi to Trump FIRE Ambassador Grenell!
THE CIVIC LEAGUE CALLS ON PRESIDENT TRUMP TO RELIEVE AMBASSADOR GRENELL FROM HIS DUTIES AS THE SPECIAL ENVOY FOR THE KOSOVA-SERBIA DIALOGUE A Public Declaration of the Albanian American Civic League April 2020
We, the members of the Board of the Albanian American Civic League, are very concerned about the dangerous situation in the Republic of Kosova, after the fall of the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Albin Kurti.
The fall was the result of an unprecedented move orchestrated by a few members of Kosova’s political elite dedicated to advancing their personal interests, in coordination with President Trump’s Special Envoy for Serbia-Kosova Peace Negotiations, Ambassador Richard Grenell.
The Civic League has always lobbied the US government to be fully engaged in finding a just and lasting solution to the Kosova-Serbia conflict in coordination with the European Union.To our regret, Ambassador Grenell has grossly mishandled the process by pursuing an easy and quick solution.
- He facilitated meetings between Serbian President Aleksander Vuçiç and Kosova President Hashim Thaçi. Vuçiç is a chauvinist with deep hatred for the Albanian people. He was Milosevic’s Minister of Information and the wartime protégé of Serbian ultranationalist Vojslav Seselj, who was convicted of crimes against humanity in The Hague. He totally controls Serbia’s institutions and maintains close ties with Moscow. Thaçi is a politician detested by the majority of the people of Kosova and considered one of the principal players responsible for most of the country’s failures of the last twenty years.
-Even though Ambassador Grenell denies it, it has been widely reported that these negotiations behind closed doors have concentrated on changing the borders between Kosova and Serbia to create ethnically pure states, contrary to the well-established policies of America and Europe that borders are fixed and political solutions must be found within them. Border changes have always brought bloodshed to the Balkans.
-Ambassador Grenell has openly taken Serbia’s side by trying to accommodate their destructive demands. He has put no pressure on Serbia to halt its campaign to get countries that have recognized Kosova’s independence to derecognize it and to stop receiving armaments from Russia. Simultaneously, Grenell has put heavy-handed pressure on the victim, Kosova--threatening the freezing of the US government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation’s economic development programs in Kosova and withdrawing US troops unless Kosova removes tariffs on Serbian goods without preconditions. Grenell has insisted that an agreement will be reached after Kosova and Serbia resume dialogue, forgetting that everyone knows that an agreement between very bad actors—Vuçiç and Thaçi—was negotiated in the summer of 2018 in talks led by then European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. It is amazing to see that Vuçiç, Thaçi, and Grenell consider the Albanian people of Kosova to be too weak and too naïve to understand what “border correction,” “adjustment,” or “demarcation” mean: the partition of Kosova and the creation of Greater Serbia. Without a doubt, the partition would embolden both Serbia and Russia and their hegemonic aspirations for domination in Southeast Europe and access to the Adriatic Sea.
-Ambassador Grenell’s role was obvious in strong-arming the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) leader Isa Mustafa to separate from Vetevendosje (LVV) in order to bring down the LVV-LDK coalition government of hope and change led by the two most publicly supported politicians—Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Assembly Speaker Vjosa Osmani, a member of LDK. In addition to Hashim Thaçi, Grenell invited Skender Hyseni, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and the representative of the junior-coalition party LDK’s old guard, for instructions on how to complete this goal a few days before the motion of no confidence vote on March 25. The process of disrupting and destabilizing the democratically elected government is contrary to American values, against the will of the people of Kosova, and against the strategic interests of the United States. It was also shameful because it has taken place at a time when Kosova, America, and the entire world are fighting to save lives as the coronavirus spreads. Most of the European representatives have voiced their opposition to the Trump administration’s political intervention in Kosova. If Thaçi and his associates encouraged by Ambassador Grenell try to take over the government without new elections or contrary to any constitutional provisions, turmoil and destabilization in Kosova will ensue and President Trump will likely be blamed.
-Based on many reports, President Trump’s appointment of Ambassador Grenell has also alienated European foreign policy leaders with Grenell working behind the scenes and not including key European allies in Kosova-Serbia negotiations. The European Union is against any territorial exchange for very good reasons. The ensuing turmoil will have lasting political impact on the Balkans and potentially lead to instability in Europe for decades to come. As Kurt Bassuener and Bodo Weber of the Berlin-based think tank Democratization Policy Council stated on April 2nd, a territorial exchange, meaning “partition of Kosova,” signifies “an abrupt break from two decades of American policy in the Balkans, opening a transatlantic rift unseen in terms of European security since the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.”
We believe that the Trump Administration’s approach to the Kosova-Serbia conflict is fundamentally wrong and hence is destined to fail. Since Ambassador Grenell has lost the credibility of an unbiased mediator, the Civic League calls on President Trump to relieve Ambassador Grenell from his duties as the Special Envoy for the Kosova-Serbia dialogue. With a knowledgeable Balkan expert in charge, the United States can and should be able to take the leading role in solving the Serbian-Albanian conflict once and for all, of course in concert with the European Union in reaching the agreement and implementing it. The Civic League also has serious concerns that Europe’s appointed Envoy for the Kosova-Serbia talks, Miroslav Lajcak, is the wrong choice for this important position due to his ties to Serbia during his role as the European Union’s special representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina between 2007 and 2009 and coming from Slovakia, one of five EU member states that has yet to recognize the independence of Kosova.
A permanent solution to the Kosova-Serbia problem is difficult, but it is possible. A mutual recognition of existing borders with guarantees for the protection of equal political and human rights for the minorities both in Kosova and Serbia is essential. But this can only happen when America and the European Union also support a final, comprehensive agreement to normalize relations between Kosova and Serbia that begins with the recognition that Serbia has been blocking every proposed agreement since the “technical talks” between Belgrade and Prishtina began in 2011. As Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi stated in her testimony before the House Subcommittee on Europe in 2013, lasting peace and stability “will only happen when Serbia recognizes Kosova’s sovereignty and its admission to international institutions, grants equal civil and human rights to the Albanians in the Presheva Valley (on a par with the rights that are currently enjoyed by Serbs in Kosova), relinquishes its parallel structures in northern Kosova, and focuses on the economic and political development of Serbia. Once that happens, Kosova’s government will need to focus on the establishment of genuine democracy and rule of law—something that it has failed to do sufficiently due to its lack of sovereignty and the corruption of many of its government officials.”
Our hope is that those politicians who have already drastically hurt Kosova understand that they have gone too far. Their claim that they are pro-American is ridiculous, since everything that they have done in Kosova for almost 20 years has been anti-American and anti-Albanian.
We also hope that the new leaders of Kosova, Albin Kurti, Vjosa Osmani and others like them, understand their historical role in getting Kosova out of this terrible situation. As a caretaker government of Kosova, they should concentrate on fighting corruption, on economic development, and on the wellbeing of its citizens, including minorities. They should ban any talks by anyone who can harm the independence, territorial integrity, and the sovereignty of the Republic of Kosova. We also hope that the government will
not undermine the opposition and instead offer them a seat at the table in dealing with Serbia and promoting and advancing Kosova’s pro-American and pro-European legacy.
In the democratic elections on October 6, 2019, the people of Kosova voted for positive change by giving Vetevendosje and LDK a golden opportunity to implement change. The vote marked a turning point in Kosova politics. We believe that the Albanian people’s love, respect, and admiration for America will not be lost, since it took over a century to build. Nevertheless, standing up for one’s rights and freedom is always the right thing to do. One American ambassador and several officials of one administration do not represent enduring American values. They are all temporarily in power.
We want to assure the people of Kosova that the Albanian American Civic League, led by Joseph J. DioGuardi and Shirley Cloyes DioGuardi, as the only registered lobby in Washington, DC, will continue to work very hard to promote and protect the legitimate rights of the Albanian people, just as the Civic League has done for the last thirty years. We have managed to change the policies of many US administrations through our work with the foreign policy leaders in the US Congress, and we will continue to do so in many different and even stronger ways before and after the coronavirus pandemic ends.
We do not support any particular political party in Kosova, Albania, or other Albanian lands. But we do support those politicians who work hard for national interests and the people they represent. The same applies to the US government: We support those political leaders who are hard-working, conscientious, and effective representatives of the people, and we reject those who are concerned only with their personal interests and the perpetuation of their power. We firmly and proudly stand for the Albanian national cause and look forward to advancing a successful democratic and economic future for Kosova.
The Board of Directors of the Albanian American Civic League