PRISTINA–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Monday began his congressional delegation visit to the Western Balkans in Kosovo. Murphy met with President Vjosa Osmani, Speaker of the Assembly Glauk Konjufca, Prime Minister Albin Kurti, and a group of Kosovan Serb Civil Society Representatives.

Murphy highlighted the strong U.S.-Kosovo relationship after his meeting with President Vjosa Osmani: “This alliance, this bilateral relationship is strong, it is enduring, and it is vital. When the United States needs help, one of the first calls we make is to our friends in Kosovo. It is not a coincidence that Kosovo was amongst the first to step up and declare that Vladimir Putin's aggression in Ukraine could not be accepted, joining with the United States and our partners in imposing a set of devastating sanctions on Russia. It is not a coincidence that when the United States needed help to evacuate our allies from Afghanistan, Kosovo stepped up to help. And it is not a coincidence that we're beginning our trip here with our great partners in Pristina.”

Following his meeting with Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Murphy discussed the urgency for implementation of the Kosovo-Serbia normalization agreement: “We had a very good and candid dialogue about the path forward to complete this agreement with Serbia. We know this involves tough choices on both sides. Serbia is going to have to stop standing in the way of Kosovo entering international organizations. And we believe it makes sense to allow for the Serb-majority municipalities to have some ability to coordinate in the services that they provide. But time is of the essence. This is the year to get this done and to be able to move on toward a pathway of normalization leading to mutual recognition.”

Speaking at a roundtable with local media, Murphy said: “No country in the world is as invested in the success and sovereignty of Kosovo as the United States. The United States is never going to agree to any concessions or steps taken by Kosovo that would jeopardize this country's future safety and security. And I hope there's confidence here that the United States is going to stand by Kosovo. And that includes discussions around the Association of Serb municipalities…Serbia needs to move forward on its commitments at the same time that Kosovo is moving forward on its commitments.”