BERLIN – U.S. diplomats on Monday oversaw the signing of an agreement between Serbia, Kosovo and the German airline Lufthansa to resume commercial flights, which will help boost economic ties between the Balkan countries.
Serbia and Kosovo remain uneasy
Serbia continues to consider Kosovo as part of its territory, although its independence has been recognized by about 100 countries, including the United States.
U.S. National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien said the “will” signed between the two countries’ representatives in Berlin marked a “historic agreement”, calling commercial air links “the lifeblood of the modern economy.”
O’Brien said there have been no commercial flights between Kosovo and Serbia in 21 years. Currently, it takes more than five hours to travel from Belgrade to Pristina Overland.
The agreement was signed at the US Embassy in Berlin by Milon Trivunak, Secretary of State for the Ministry of Economy of Serbia, and Asset Berisha, Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Kosovo. US Ambassador Richard Grenell is also serving as President Donald Trump’s special envoy to Serbia and Kosovo.
Kosovo President Hashim Thassi welcomed the agreement, saying it was “an important step towards the movement and normalization of citizens.”
The 25-minute flight between Belgrade and Pristina will be operated by Lufthansa budget carrier Eurowings, which already has an aircraft in the Kosovo capital.
Michael Knitter, chief operating officer of Eurowings, said flights could begin as both countries remove more regulatory barriers.
However, it is not clear how quickly this could happen. Belgrade has in the past called on Pristina to waive 100% tax on Serbian goods before resuming flights.
“Serbia has shown a clear determination to increase the free flow of goods, people and capital in the face of artificially imposed barriers and restrictions,” the Serbian economy ministry said in a statement on Monday.
The Associated Press