Kosovo rejects ethnic land swap with Serbia
- ASSOCIATED PRESS, PRISTINA
- Aug 03, 2018
The president of Kosovo has rejected the idea of dividing the country along ethnic lines to resolve a dispute over its independence from Serbia. President Hashim Thaci told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he was open to discussing "a correction" of borders during the difficult European Union-mediated peace negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia. "Serbia's claim for a Kosovo division will not be successful. It is unacceptable," he said.
In 1999, NATO intervened to stop a bloody Serb crackdown on Albanian separatists in Kosovo. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is recognized as a separate nation by more than 100 countries, but not by Serbia. Tensions remain high after seven years of negotiations, even though the EUs has made it clear to the governments in Pristina and Belgrade they must normalize relations to advance toward membership in the bloc.
Some Serbian government officials have suggested a possible solution could be a land swap based on where ethnic Serb and Albanian minorities are concentrated — Kosovo's northern Mitrovica region for Serbia's Presevo Valley.
Thaci said there would be no "division, but a correction of borders" that could possibly make the Presevo Valley a part of Kosovo. He did not say whether that would involve a trade of northern Mitrovica, where the majority of Kosovo Serbs live. The president was determined that negotiations with Serbia, under the EU leadership and closely followed by the United States, would result in bilateral recognition soon.