U.S. President Joe Biden has said that Kosovo holds a “special place” for his family because of the time his late son Beau spent in the Balkan country, where he helped to strengthen the rule of law.
Biden made the remark in a letter sent to acting President Vjosa Osmani on the occasion of Kosovo’s independence day. Osmani made the contents of the letter public on February 16.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008, a decade after a 1998-99 war between ethnic Albanian rebels and Serbian forces. The war ended after a 78-day NATO air campaign drove Serbian troops out and an international peacekeeping force moved in.
“Kosovo continues to hold a special place for the Biden family in honor of the time our late son Beau Biden spent working to ensure peace, justice, and the rule of law for all the people of Kosovo,” Biden wrote.
Beau Biden worked in Kosovo after the 1998-99 war with the military forces and also with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe strengthening the rule of law there.
Biden visited Kosovo in 2016 on his last trip to the region as vice president to attend with his family a ceremony naming a road near a U.S. military base after his son, who died a year earlier of brain cancer at age 46.
In the letter, Biden said the United States was ready to work with the new government of Kosovo on the path of European integration.
“There is still a lot of work to be done, including reaching a comprehensive agreement with Serbia focused on mutual recognition, which strengthens the rule of law, tackling the pandemic, and fostering economic growth that enables a prosperous future for all citizens,” he said.
Biden urged the same in a letter to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic earlier this month.
Most Western states have recognized Kosovo, but Serbia and its allies Russia and China do not. Tensions over Kosovo remain a source of volatility in the Balkans.
The United States was among the first countries to recognize Kosovo’s independence. Since 1999, the U.S. government has invested about $2 billion in Kosovo.
In September, Kosovo and Serbia signed at the White House two documents for the normalization of economic relations, in the presence of former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Following the U.S. presidential election, Pristina and Belgrade have pledged to continue implementing the agreements, despite the change in U.S. administration.
“The United States of America remains a committed partner and friend of Kosovo in these efforts,” Biden wrote in his letter.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that reaching a comprehensive agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, focused on mutual recognition, will require flexibility and a willingness on all sides to compromise.