“People of the Western Balkans deserve American leadership,” Grenell says exclusively for The Pavlovic Today after the presser, and he believes the Biden administration is not delivering.

  • Richard Grenell: Blinken won’t do the job. The American administration needs someone who can walk into the Oval Office and do things
  • Grenell says that the Biden administration owes the region more than just “lip service” for economic agreement.
  • Richard Grenell: Stop the politics, let’s create jobs.

On Thursday afternoon local time, a former U.S. Special Envoy for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Richard Grenell held an impromptu press conference at the Merdare border crossing between Serbia and Kosovo.

He discussed a wide range of issues, sharing his frustration about the lack of implementation of a historic Serbia-Kosovo economic normalization agreement during the Biden administration.

“I come because we are frustrated,” Grenell said to reporters making it clear that he came to the region as a “private citizen.”

WATCH THE PRESS CONFERENCE IN FULL: Richard Grenell at Merdare border crossing talks to reporters.

“Many of the Trump administration and many Americans are frustrated because we saw a historic agreement, an economic one, which we agreed on for the people of Kosovo and the people of Serbia is not respected,” said Grenell adding that agreement “was not done for governments” but for “economic development.”

Through the Serbia-Kosovo economic normalization agreement, both sides agreed to stop the campaigns for recognition and de-recognition for one year. “That point was historic,” Grenell explained putting an emphasis on the importance of the economic development and implementation of “all agreements regarding rail and road transport.” He added “to have an open border, you would see how businessmen from the U.S. and the West come and do business. This could have been done over the last 14 months. Instead of good business for Kosovo and Serbia, we have had instead a very little movement and that’s what makes us frustrated.”

Grenell also referred to “too many young people with Kosovo and Serbia moved to Germany, Hungary, Poland because they couldn’t get good jobs.” He called on the media and public to look closely at the details they negotiated. “We have launched a historic flight between Pristina and Belgrade. The reason we did that was because the business community told us ‘We need a flight it in order to bring jobs here jobs here.’ Many in the West have this idea of a perceived conflict in the region.”

Grenell spoke of a general idea that there is still hostility going on in the region “and then jobs don’t move here, so what has happened in the last few weeks is frustrating for the United States,” Grenell said at Merdare border crossing.

Richard Grenell at Merdare  Border crossing on Thursday, November 11, 2021 ( Photo: https://www.kosovo-online.com/ )
Richard Grenell at Merdare Border crossing on Thursday, November 11, 2021 ( Photo: https://www.kosovo-online.com/ )

A former U.S. Special Envoy for Serbia-Kosovo talks during the Trump administration is currently traveling through the region in non-official capacity as a “private citizen” making a stop in Tirana, Pristina, and Belgrade.

During his first stop in Tirana, Grenell met with Ilir Meta, the President of Albania and he invited Americans to visit Albania’s capital.

“People are amazing,” Grenell said on social media.

Albanian president expressed his appreciation for Grenell’s commitment in strengthening relations between Albania and the United States.

“It is always a pleasure to have Richard Grenell in Albania and in my office. His commitment to supporting the further strengthening of relations and cooperation between Albania and the United States is highly appreciated,” Meta said on Twitter.

Former President Trump issued a statement after Grenell’s press conference. He echoed Grenell’s frustration and said that “the region is too important and that people have waited for too long for this work to be cast aside.”

With a symbolic press gaggle taking place at the Merdare border crossing, Grenell laid out his message rising political awareness about this  geopolitical hotspot that fell off president Biden’s agenda. 

“People of the Western Balkans deserve American leadership,” Grenell said exclusively to The Pavlovic Today after the presser, and he believes the Biden administration is not delivering.

Grenell says that the Biden administration owes the region more than just “lip service”. He wants to see America step-up and defend and enforce the policies of economic agreement it says it supports. 

Richard Grenell at Merdare  Border crossing on Thursday, November 11, 2021 ( Photo: https://www.kosovo-online.com/ )
Richard Grenell at Merdare Border crossing on Thursday, November 11, 2021 ( Photo: https://www.kosovo-online.com/ )

“Blinken won’t do the job. The American administration needs someone who can walk into the Oval office and do things,” Grenell said.

According to the insiders, the reason the Trump administration was able to make a huge step forward and broker an economic agreement between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians in 2019 was Grenell’s ability to walk into the Oval and have time with the President. His work saw expanded economic ties, increased border crossings and mutual recognition of professional qualifications —the beginning of a path forward for future political solutions in Kosovo. 

Richard Grenell at Merdare border crossing talks to reporters.

“We have to have open borders,” Grenell said for The Pavlovic Today. He calls on the Serbian and Kosovo leadership to mutually recognize educational degrees and professional credentials, a powerful tool to facilitate mobility and inclusion in the region. “Stop the politics, and let’s create jobs. That’s my message today,” Grenell said.

As a former U.S. diplomat, Grenell’s trip to the region is intended to build awareness of the problems people are facing and urge leaders to take steps toward implementation of the 2019 economic agreement that will make the lives of ethnic communities better. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Grenell on his way to Belgrade where he will finalize his trip to the region.  

Ksenija Pavlovic McAteer

Ksenija Pavlovic is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Pavlovic Today, The Chief White House Correspondent. Pavlovic was a Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Fellow in the Political Science department...