An economic approach is the “first step” to reaching a long-lasting peace between Serbia and Kosovo, according to former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell on Newsmax TV on Monday.
“We decided to get involved because there’s been a long history of lots of different experts, so-called experts, that have been pushing in on just political issues, largely ignoring the economic issues,” Grenell, who is the president’s special envoy for Kosovo and Serbia negotiations, told “American Agenda.”
“When I started discussing these issues with the people of Kosovo, and the business community in Kosovo, the people of Serbia and the business community, what was clear is that they wanted economic development; they wanted jobs for young people; they wanted hope.
“And so, what we tried to do is immediately figure out, ‘how do you get the economies to grow?’ We did an airline deal, the first ever in 21 years, a flight between Pristina,” the capital of Kosovo, “and Belgrade,” the capital of Serbia.
“That’s not quite implemented yet, but we have the agreement, and we’re working on it. The same with the railway agreement, which would open up the borders to commerce, and a large border agreement with motor traffic. What we’re trying to do is concentrate on the economic situation, to create a little mini Shenzhen zone,” referring to China’s first special economic zone.
“We think that’s a very, very good idea, and we think if you can create jobs in the region, if you can bring capitalism and force the parties to get along economically and commercially, then the political issues would be the second step. The political issues are clearly the responsibility of the Europeans.
“Bring European and American businesses to the region, and then I think the Europeans will have more success on the political side,” Grenell continued. “We’re trying to be helpful and trying to shift the paradigm, because after 20 years we still haven’t seen enough progress.”
When asked if he is concerned about Russia’s influence over the region, Grenell added, “we’re always concerned about the propaganda that Russia pushes and the destabilization policies; we’re always looking at that.”