According to reports from international media on Monday, Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj’s US visa was rejected, citing imposition of customs tax increases as the reason.
According to reports from Al Jazeera Balkans, Prime Minister Haradinaj was invited to Washington on February 6 for a conference “on the Balkans.”
The rejection of his visa for the conference is connected with US pressure towards Kosovo authorities to withdraw the 100 per cent customs tax increase on goods arriving to Kosovo from Serbia, the report said, a measure that was introduced by the Kosovo Government on November 21, 2018.
According to the Kosovo Government’s spokesperson Donjeta Gashi, the Kosovo PM has not yet officially received an answer regarding the outcome of his application.
This would not be first time that the prime minister has been denied entry to the US. In January 2018, Haradinaj’s visa was rejected as the result of the efforts of the former KLA commander, along with his peers, to abolish the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, or ‘Special Court’ as it is popularly known, which caused relations between Kosovo and the US. to cool off following the US’s negative reaction to the attempt.
Currently, the international community is pressuring Haradinaj to withdraw the 100 per cent tax increase on products entering through Serbia, considering it a violation of free trade regulations.
Haradinaj’s government had repeatedly stated that the tax increase would be withdrawn only when Serbia recognizes Kosovo’s independence.
“What I can say is that the Kosovo government has in no way made any changes in its policies or regarding the tariff or any other approach regarding current developments that we talk about,” said Avni Arifaj, chief advisor of Prime Minister, in December.
However, as a result of this pressure, it seems Haradinaj has shifted his position. On Monday, Haradinaj stated: “Kosovo Government would remove temporary the tariff increase, only if the international community guarantees that we will sit down and sign the final agreement [with Serbia] which should result in mutual recognition,” he wrote on Facebook.
The Kosovo government initially levied a tariff of 10 per cent on November 6 last year, citing Serbia’s “negative behavior” towards Kosovo’s statehood as justification for its imposition. Haradinaj said that the decision came after reports that certain countries allegedly withdrew recognition of Kosovo following Serbia’s international campaign against the sovereignty of Kosovo.
However, the failure of Kosovo to join Interpol and the reported attempts of the Serbian government to thwart Kosovo’s membership bid to the international criminal police organization resulted in the Government’s decision install a 100 percent tariff on Serbian imports.