Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Kosovo land-swap proposal under fire from all sides

The Guardian, SARAJEVO

An adviser to Dodik said that the concerns were exaggerated.

“President Dodik is one of the most experienced politicians in the region and he will do nothing, knowing how important it is for Serbia to close the story with Pristina,” said Ana Trisic-Babic, a former Bosnian deputy minister of foreign affairs.

However, there are fears that simply by putting the issue back on the table, it will give fuel to those who wish to reopen questions that had appeared to be long resolved.

In Macedonia, which has a large ethnic Albanian minority and was the scene of interethnic clashes in 2001, politicians are wary of any deal involving land swaps.

“These ideas have been floating around throughout the Balkan wars, and this country has always been very firm in supporting political solutions to political problems that do not require ethnic borders,” Macedonian Minister of Defense Radmila Sekerinska said. “We need to remind ourselves that the biggest atrocities were committed with that aim, or with that excuse, in mind.”

Another key question is whether Russia can be brought onside for any deal. Vui is due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin twice in the coming months and so far Moscow has given little indication of whether it is ready to drop its long-held opposition to Kosovar independence.

Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that it is down to Belgrade and Pristina to agree a deal.

However, “the deal has to reflect the interests of the Serb people” if Russia is to back it, she said.

She declined to clarify how Russia would assess those interests.

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