Monday (June 22nd): Settling a dispute or solidifying reelection?

Hashim Thaçi

Name? Hashim Thaçi

Westphalian identity? Kosovar

Age? 52

Why is he in the news? The former prime minister and current President of Kosovo is scheduled to meet with his Serbian counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, at the White House this Saturday. 

Why do we care? The meeting of Thaçi and Vucic in the U.S. has been met with harsh criticism: The summit was arranged without consulting the European Union; a party that has been extensively involved in the dispute settlement process from the beginning. 

Why should you care? Because the decades-long border dispute between Serbia and Kosovo is a touchy subject for all involved. It’s resolution would not only lead to greater stability in the Balkans, but ultimately recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation from Serbia.

Who else cares? You guessed it, Trump cares. As his attempts to revive a reelection campaign have been largely unsuccessful, Trump has begun prioritizing certain foreign affairs in order to boost his ratings. If his administration was able to somehow broker a peace deal encompassing the border dispute between Serbia and Kosovo; a bipartisan issue, many would have no choice but to praise the Commander in Tweet.

Any further comments? Thaçi and Vucic aren’t the first heads of state to gain further legitimacy by visiting the White House; specifically, to visit the White House a week or two before an election as in Vucic’s case. These meetings; the first of their kind during the current Corona situation, are reminiscent of Trump’s invitation to Israeli’ Prime Minister Netanyahu scheduled just two weeks before he faced a reelection vote last year. Not only do all these summits have upcoming elections in common, they also notably all include meetings between Trump and leaders he has labeled as ‘exemplary allies;’ despite the criticism each leader’s government has received.

Sarah McFadden

Team Member of Research & Analysis