PRISTINA, Kosovo—Kosovo awarded U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday with one of the country’s highest honors for his government’s efforts on peace and reconciliation in the former war-torn region.
President Hashim Thaci awarded Trump with Kosovo’s Order of Freedom “for his exceptional contribution for the freedom of Kosovo and the strengthening of peace and reconciliation in the region.”
The honor is given to local and foreign citizens for their high contribution in defending Kosovo’s freedom.
Trump’s administration has been working to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo, two former Balkan war foes, and two weeks ago Serbian President Aleksander Vucic and Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti signed an economic normalization deal at the White House.
Thaci also awarded Trump’s National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and his envoy for Serbia-Kosovo talks Richard Grenell with the lower Presidential Medal of Merits, saying they were “indispensable” for the deal.
Kosovo, a former Serbian province, and Serbia have been negotiating under European Union mediation since 2011 on normalizing their ties. Serbia fought a brutal 1998-1999 war with separatist fighters in Kosovo. The war ended after NATO conducted a 78-day airstrike campaign against Serbia.
Kosovo was run by the United Nations for nine years before it declared independence in 2008. Most Western nations recognize Kosovo’s statehood, but not Serbia.
In another nod to inroads made this year, a member of Sweden’s parliament nominated the governments of the U.S., Kosovo, and Serbia for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In a letter sent to Trump, Thaci said that the Kosovo-Serbia deal can be achieved “only under the powerful leadership of the United States of America. Your role in that process is vital.”
Thaci also invited Trump for a visit to Kosovo.