Pressure mounts for deal with Kosovo
September 7, 2018 -- The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo meet in Brussels to explore a possible peace deal including a land-swap proposal that has triggered growing opposition to a new redrawing of frontiers in the Balkans.
Kosovo’s president Hashim Thaci and Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic have raised the idea of a land swap based on where ethnic Serb and Albanian minorities are concentrated — Kosovo's northern Mitrovica region for Serbia's Presevo Valley.
Germany and some of its European Union partners have voiced fears that a possible land-swap could open up old wounds in the Balkans rather than resolve their long-standing differences.
NATO intervened in 1999 to stop a bloody Serb crackdown on Albanian separatists in Kosovo. Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in 2008.
Kosovo is recognized as a nation by more than 100 countries, but Serbia and five EU countries — Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain — refuse to do so. Spain, for example, fears that such a move might encourage Catalan separatists.
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo remain high after seven years of negotiations even though the EU has made it clear to both governments that they must normalize relations if they hope to join the bloc.
- Kosovo-Serbia talks: Why land swap could bridge divide (BBC)
- Kosovo and Serbia: how 'redrawing the map' lost its taboo (AFP)
- US-backed Kosovo land-swap border plan under fire from all sides (The Guardian)
- The leaders of Kosovo and Serbia talk about swapping land (The Economist)
- Kosovo land-swap proposal triggers Balkan unease (FT)