US General Major Timothy Orr cancels his official visit to Kosovo over tax on Serbian goods

The US government has decided to cancel the visit of General Major, Timothy Orr, from the Iowa National Guard, as a sign of protest against the tax that the Kosovo government imposed on goods coming from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo’s refusal to abolish the tax on the US insistence.

A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Pristina confirmed that Major General Timothy Orr’s visit was canceled “in connection to tariffs of Serbian and Bosnian goods.”

The spokesman added that the embassy had no comment on further visits or scheduled training.

Richard Mei, spokesperson to the US Embassy in Kosovo, told online media that cancellation of General Orr’s visit has to do with the Government’s decision to impose tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“We can confirm that the visit of General Orr has been cancelled related to tariffs on goods from Serbia and Bosnia. We have no other comment on future visits or planned training,” Mei said.  

Kosovo Security Forces commander Rahman Rama said he had been told the visit had been scrapped, and then informed Kosovo President Hasim Thaci of the decision in a letter.

“This is a consequence of the fees imposed on Serbia, which prompted the decision of the U.S. government,” Rama said.

Orr was scheduled to arrive for a three-day visit on February 16th, during celebrations for Kosovo’s 11th birthday.

The Iowa National Guard has worked with the Kosovo Security Force as part of the State Partnership Program since 2011.

Rama said that cooperation with the National Guard was one of the best partnerships the country has with the United States, not only for its military benefits, but also in the areas of culture and education.

Adviser to Prime Minister of Kosovo, Erolld Belegu, who was in charge of organizing the visit of Major General Orr to Kosovo, says that the decision to cancel this visit is regrettable and that it is a decision made by the American administration.

“This is a decision of the US administration alone, on which we have no influence. The Administration stated that the reason why the visit was cancelled was the taxThis was a sovereign decision of Kosovo and the Government of Kosovo is determined to continue to apply the tax, in the hope that it will be a sufficient argument for Serbia to come forward to discuss open issues. The lack of readiness to sit down and talk was evident in Serbia saying that the condition for the dialogue to continue was to resolve the issue of the Trepca mine”, Belegu added.

He adds that Kosovo wants American support, and that the Kosovo-US relations are very good, but that, in this case, there is a disagreement over the course of dialogue with Serbia.

“The tax was imposed against Serbia and Russia, and it was not introduced against our ally, America,” concluded Belegu.

Both Brussels and Washington have pressed Kosovo to repeal the tariff on imported Serbian and Bosnian goods, which has strained international efforts to broker a deal between the former foes.

Kosovo imposed the import tax in November in retaliation for what it called Belgrade’s attempts to undermine its statehood, such as spearheading a campaign to scupper Pristina’s bid to join Interpol.

(Radio Slobodna Evropa, 11.02.2019)


This post is also available in: Italiano

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