News 22 Aug 17

US Denies Holbrooke Promised No Recognition of Kosovo

The US State Department has dismissed Serbian claims that the late US diplomat Richard Holbrooke wrote to Milosevic, pledging that Washington would not recognise Kosovo's independence.

Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

U.S. Department of State. Photo: Wikimedia/APK

The US State Department has denied Serbian claims that the late diplomat Richard Holbrooke's letter wrote to the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in 1998/9, pledging that the United States would "never recognise Kosovo".

“This is simply not true. There is no such letter,” the US State Department wrote in an email to BIRN.

Ivica Dacic, Serbian Foreign Minister, told the Serbian tabloid newspaper Srpski Telegraf on August 15 that while Holbrooke sent the letter pledging that the United States "will never recognise Kosovo," adding that the letter later went missing and was stolen.

He was cited as saying that Milosevic’s secretary "swears that Milosevic called her and gave her a piece of paper that the then chief negotiator between the West and Serbia, US envoy Holbrooke, signed for Milosevic saying that America will never recognise Kosovo,” Dacic said. He accused opposition parties in Serbia of having stolen the document.

In its response to BIRN, the State Department recalled that Kosovo’s status as an independent state was clear in US eyes. “The United States and more than 100 other countries recognize Kosovo," it said.

“Both Kosovo and Serbia must focus on the future. They should redouble efforts to work through the EU-led Dialogue Talks to fully normalize relations, which would benefit stability and security in region and help advance both countries’ EU accession,” the State Department wrote.

Dacic also added that no state institution is now in possession of the original copy of the 1995 Dayton Agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia.

The State Department disputed that as well, however, saying that the entirety of the Dayton Agreement is a matter of public record.

On August 17, Srpski Telegraf published that Serbian police had launched an investigation into the missing documents. BIRN could not independently verify the report. Serbian interior ministry did not respond BIRN questions by the time of publication.

Holbrooke died in 2010. Together with Sweden's Carl Bildt, he brokered the accord that led to the end of the 1992-5 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

After the war ended, US President Bill Clinton appointed him as his special envoy to the Balkans where he led talks aimed at resolving the war in Kosovo.

In 1999, he travelled to Belgrade to hand Milosevic the West's final ultimatum before the NATO attack began, which terminated Serbian rule in Kosovo.

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