Is Turkey undermining the Washington Agreement?


In a deal brokered through the closing months of the presidency of Donald Trump, Kosovo and Israel agreed to determine diplomatic relations as a part of the so-called “Washington Agreement.”  This made up a small however significant factor of a bigger US-brokered deal designed to enhance bilateral financial ties between Kosovo and Serbia in help of broader EU efforts to resolve the Kosovo-Serbia dispute.  

Both Kosovo and Serbia have been mentioned to have dedicated within the Washington Agreement to arrange embassies in Jerusalem.  For Kosovo, this may be a totally new facility, whereas Serbia must ultimately move its present embassy to Israel’s capital from its present website in Tel Aviv.

The US 2020 presidential election connection

Although many noticed the Jerusalem embassy provisions as a element of Trump’s failed 2020 re-election marketing campaign, the administration of President Joe Biden indicated in early February that it totally supported the Kosovo-Serbia settlement hammered out in 2020 and expressed help, as effectively, for the so-called “Abraham Accords” framework, which has sharply expanded Israel’s diplomatic interplay with a number of key Muslim international locations, lots of that are within the Persian Gulf. 

The official ceremony marking the beginning of Kosovo-Israel diplomatic relations was held nearly on February 1 with a senior US official collaborating, and Kosovo’s diplomatic representatives have been arriving in Israel since that point to determine a bodily presence.

Ankara reacts

Almost instantly after Kosovo and Israel established diplomatic relations, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a hostile assertion claiming Kosovo’s actions associated to establishing an embassy in Jerusalem would violate worldwide regulation in addition to sure UN resolutions.  Turkey additionally thought-about Kosovo’s actions “to have harmed the prospects for implementation of a two-state solution.”  

Rumors additionally circulated early in February that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had made unspecified threats towards Kosovo, which at the moment was within the midst of a snap election marketing campaign, with out additional particulars.

Erdogan was quoted as saying “I believe that it would be beneficial to avoid such a move that would cause great damage to Kosovo.”  To most observers this diplomatically phrased assertion doesn’t fairly qualify as a menace, leaving the listener to invest. One risk is that Turkey would use its affect to forestall Kosovo’s Turkish minority politicians and others from becoming a member of any new coalition authorities that may emerge or presumably demand that the Jerusalem embassy dedication must be voided. 

Unfortunately, Erdogan – who, on account of more and more tense relations with the State of Israel of the final dozen years, has aligned Turkey with terrorist teams equivalent to Hamas within the Gaza Strip and has carried out army operations towards Israel’s Kurdish allies in Iraq and Syria – didn’t look forward to a brand new authorities to be fashioned in Pristina.

On March 1, the chief of the biggest Kosovar social gathering after the February 14 election, Albin Kurti of the Vetevendosje, (Self-Determination) social gathering – who had beforehand served a short time period as Prime Minister in 2020 – sat down with Turkey’s ambassador.  An announcement after the assembly revealed that the Jerusalem subject was on the agenda, noting: “The place where the embassy will be located is to be considered following checking of the documentation of the outgoing government.”

Other components might be in play, as effectively.  Miroslav Lajcak, the EU’s designated particular envoy, visited Pristina and Belgrade on March 1-4.  The principal focus of his journey was to speed up the resumption of the EU-sponsored Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, broken considerably when Washington aggressively stepped in throughout 2020 to assist promote stronger financial ties between each international locations.

Like the Turks, Lajcak didn’t wait till a brand new authorities was fashioned in Pristina, and the magnet of eventual EU accession ensures that any EU official has almost quick entry to senior governing constructions in Kosovo. 

The EU had expressed remorse when the announcement of Kosovo’s Jerusalem embassy plan grew to become public, however it’s not recognized how onerous Lajcak pressed the Kosovars on this subject, satirically aligning the EU and Turkey’s positions, and opposing Washington.