Kosovo formally established diplomatic relations with Israel on February 1, a connection that was brokered by American diplomats in the closing months of the Trump administration.  Turkey reacted with anger and almost immediately began threatening Kosovo for its decision, which it labeled contrary to international law, demanding at the very least that Kosovo’s new embassy not be situated in Jerusalem.   Ignoring Turkey’s threats, the Republic of Kosovo announced the opening of its embassy in Jerusalem on March 14. 

The Washington Agreement overshadowed? 

The agreement on the Jerusalem embassy was part of the so-called “Washington Agreement” signed in the Oval Office on September 4, 2020.  The diplomatic recognition of Israel and the Jerusalem embassy provisions were attached to a broader package of measures aimed at boosting economic cooperation between Kosovo and Serbia.  That larger agreement brought Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s then-Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti together for a signing ceremony in the presence of President Donald Trump on September 4. 

Most observers saw the Jerusalem embassy provisions as a component of Trump’s failed 2020 re-election campaign arranged by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a few political operatives.  Other analysts noted the mutual recognition provisions actually overshadowed the Kosovo-Serbia economic cooperation provisions of the agreement. 

Nevertheless, President Joe Biden’s team at the State Department indicated in early February that it fully supported the Kosovo-Serbia agreement hammered out in 2020, and signaled support as well for the so-called “Abraham Accords” framework which has sharply expanded Israel’s diplomatic interaction with Muslim countries, many of whom are in the Persian Gulf.

Both Kosovo and Serbia were said to have committed in the Washington Agreement to set up embassies in Jerusalem.  For Kosovo, this task was somewhat easier as the embassy was to be a completely new facility, while Serbia would eventually have to move its current embassy to Israel’s capital from its current site in Tel Aviv.  There has been no information released on the embassy move from key officials in Belgrade so far. 

Official opening on March 14

The Kosovo embassy was opened by Ines Demiri, Kosovo’s charge d’affaires in Israel since senior representatives from Kosovo were unable to travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Embassy of the Republic of Kosovo in Jerusalem will be strongly committed to increasing bilateral cooperation and strengthening the international profile of the state of Kosovo,” Kosovo’s Foreign Ministry said in a March 14 press release. 

Turkey’s ambassador in Pristina has held meetings with Kosovo officials to explain Ankara’s opposition to the opening, and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying in February “I believe that it would be beneficial to avoid such a move that would cause great damage to Kosovo.”  

For its part, the EU remains opposed to the movement of EU member states’ embassies to Jerusalem, but it is not known what form of pressure, beyond the brief press statement below, was applied on this issue to the Kosovars who eventually hope to begin EU accession negotiations. 

An EU spokesman said on March 15 that “the EU regrets Kosovo’s decision to depart from the EU position on the Jerusalem issue.”

“The position of the EU is well known and is in accordance with Security Council Resolution 478 of 1980, which calls upon all UN member states to relocate their embassies to Tel Aviv. All embassies of EU member states and the EU Delegation to Israel are located in Tel Aviv.” the spokesperson said.


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