US Expert Sees Solution to Pristina-Belgrade Conflict in Exerting Pressure on Vucic

The United States cannot avoid a clash with China and Russia, and the Western Balkans is a dangerous maneuvering point for both those countries, has said David L. Phillips, Director of the Peacebuilding and Human Rights Program at the University of Columbia.

In an article published in Balkan Insight, Phillips, who has served as senior adviser and foreign affairs expert during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, said the United States should appoint a Special Presidential Envoy to mediate the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, which should take place at the level of independent and sovereign states.

Phillips stressed that the US could force Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to recognize Kosovo by threatening to freeze his and his brother's assets. "It could force Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to recognize Kosovo by threatening to freeze the offshore assets of Vucic and his brother."

Russia and Serbia have sought to intimidate Kosovo by establishing military posts near the Kosovo border, said Philips.

According to his opinion, the talks between Kosovo and Serbia cannot be about the status of Kosovo. They should focus on the status of Kosovo-Serbia relations as independent and sovereign states. To show that this means business, the US must demand the closure of the Nis base and other Russian military facilities in Serbia, while imposing an arms embargo on Serbia, said the US diplomatic expert. / Argumentum.al