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Former acting Director of National Intelligence and U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell ripped into the media on Friday during a briefing on a historic deal between Serbia and Kosovo to normalize economic relations.
At one point, a young reporter from the New York Post, Steven Nelson, started to ask Grenell, who is gay, about his involvement in the United States’ international effort to decriminalize homosexuality.
But Grenell, whom President Donald Trump appointed to negotiate the Serbia-Kosovo agreement, immediately cut him off.
“Let me just talk about Kosovo and Serbia. I don’t know if you can find it on a map. But this is atrocious,” Grenell said.
“You might be too young to understand what this issue is about. Maybe the older journalists should step up and say, ‘This is a big deal. This is a big issue.’ I’m astounded what happens in Washington, D.C., and especially in this room. I gotta tell you, it’s substantive, maybe it’s too complicated of an issue for you all,” he said, continuing to scold reporters.
At that point, one of them interrupted to say that it was the first time reporters have had the opportunity to speak to officials from the two countries.
“Okay, but let’s take a little time to talk about this 21-year issue,” he said. “I mean, 21 years, we’re getting the same questions that are all politics.”
Several people including top conservative talker and author of “Unfreedom of the Press,” Mark Levin, praised Grenell for his boldness in calling out a Washington Press Corps too often focused on minutia and posturing.
Richard Grenell is one of the finest public servants I’ve ever witnessed https://t.co/TBMjrgt0Li
— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) September 4, 2020
Put 'em in a body bag https://t.co/yl2E5FybmV
— Matt Vespa (@mVespa1) September 4, 2020
.@RichardGrenell brings the 🔥🔥:
"This is atrocious… You might be too young to understand what this issue is about. Maybe the older journalists should step up and say, 'This is a big deal…' I am astounded about what happens in DC & especially [in the White House Briefing.]" pic.twitter.com/GP3injzowY
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) September 4, 2020
Richard is 100% RIGHT.
These press core reporters seem mentally incompetent.
I watch the press conferences just to laugh at how ignorant they sound. <–True story.
— South_Side (@SouthSi14196781) September 4, 2020
The government is too powerful and the Media is the next step below I want unbias news not opinionated hacked. Thank You @RichardGrenell awesome job as always
— Colleen lescault (@LescaultColleen) September 4, 2020
Richard Grenell puts all these hacks in their place. What an absolute boss. pic.twitter.com/Le5ZAJ3kFg
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 5, 2020
After the USSR dissolved, historic ethnic rivalries surfaced in Yugoslavia and it, too, broke up, leading to war. The first (1992-1995) involved factions of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the rump Yugoslav army and Serbian forces. The second, which was primarily between Kosovo and Serbia, officially lasted from February 1998 until June 1999, though skirmishes and incidents occurred in the regions throughout the 1990s.
In fact, the U.S. military has been part of an international peacekeeping force in Kosovo for decades (KFOR – Kosovo Force).
“You guys don’t understand what’s happening outside of Washington, D.C. People aren’t listening to you anymore,” Grenell continued. “It’s really a crisis in journalism, and I think it’s because people are too young to understand issues like Kosovo and Serbia. How about a substantive question?”
At that, Reuters’ White House correspondent Jeff Mason interjected, “I don’t think any of us came here for a lecture about our questioning,” before finally getting to one about the financial arrangements of the deal.
Grenell explained that it involved “full economic normalization,” which includes reopening borders as well as air, rail, and vehicle traffic between both countries. He added that “a whole bunch of industries” would also be involved.
He also noted that some political issues as well as trade problems were also “solved.”
In a statement, President Donald Trump announced that the Serb-Kosovar deal was part of a larger international effort.
“We have also made additional progress on reaching peace in the Middle East. Kosovo and Israel have agreed to normalization of ties and the establishment of diplomatic relations. Serbia has committed to opening a commercial office in Jerusalem this month and to move its embassy to Jerusalem by July,” he said.
“It has taken tremendous bravery by President Vučić of Serbia and Prime Minister Hoti of Kosovo to embark on these talks and to come to Washington to finalize these commitments. By doing so, they have made their countries, the Balkans, and the world safer,” Trump added.
By one estimate, 100,000 people were killed during the Bosnian War. By 2008, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia had convicted 45 Serbs, 12 Croats, and 4 Bosniaks of war crimes including ethnic cleansing.
World War I also has its origins in the region. Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were assassinated by a Bosnian Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in June 1914, sparking what would become, at the time, the world’s bloodiest, most deadly global conflict.
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