Ryan Scherba (IWP Class of 2019) of Balkan Insider hosted a webinar with Serbia’s Chief Negotiator for the Kosovo-Serbia Dialogue, Mr. Marko Djuric. Mr. Djuric gave an inside perspective on some of the signed documents and discussions from Washington, D.C. that took place in early September.
Mr. Djuric discussed the fact that Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister of Kosovo Avdullah Hoti signed documents of economic normalization between the two nations. Since relations between the two have been heavily influenced by political and ideological issues since Kosovo’s declared independence, both economies have greatly suffered. Both parties joined the Trump administration in Washington D.C. for meetings in hopes to establish an economic agreement to benefit both countries.
These agreements included the construction of a railway and highway between the two capitals, as well as building factories to support job growth, noted Mr. Djuric. Funding for these projects is worth more than 3 billion Euros in total, so the obvious question would be: who is paying for these infrastructure improvements? Mr. Djuric stated that the highway is already being financed by the Serbian government. There is still a need for financial support for the railway, but there are pledges from the United States to use International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) funds to support the projects.
Mr. Djuric is hopeful that these infrastructure projects will not only boost the local economy but also further cooperation between Serbia and Kosovo and their ties to the international community. As the Mini Schengen market grows and allows for easier travel, there is hope for it to attract larger investors which will also help keep younger generations from leaving the region and stimulate long-term growth.
Mr. Djuric noted that while Serbia and Kosovo still have political differences, this meeting and agreement are positive steps in the full normalization of relations in the region.