US not against Serbia-Kosovo land-swap deal, White House security advisor says

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 25, 2018 16:50

US not against Serbia-Kosovo land-swap deal, White House security advisor says

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  • He said he didn’t believe neither anyone in Europe would stand in the way of a territorial swap as a deal, as long as it was a mutually satisfactory one.

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TIRANA, Aug. 25 – US National Security Advisor John R. Bolton said on Friday his country won’t oppose a territorial exchange between Kosovo and Serbia as a solution to their dispute, as long as the deal comes as a “mutually satisfactory settlement” between Pristina and Belgrade.

Bolton made the remarks during a press conference in Kiev, where he was asked his thoughts on the widely debated idea of exchanging territories between Kosovo and Serbia, after Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci spoke of “border correction,” in the context of EU-mediated talks on normalizing relations.

“I think there are new signs that both governments very quietly may be willing to negotiate on this,” Bolton said about a Kosovo-Serbia territorial exchange. “Our policy, the U.S. policy, is that if the two parties can work it out between themselves and reach agreement, we don’t exclude territorial adjustments. It’s really not for us to say,” Bolton said.

He said he didn’t believe neither anyone in Europe would stand in the way of a territorial swap as a deal, as long as it was a mutually satisfactory one.

“We don’t think we’re going to solve it for them. We think they’ve got to solve it for themselves,” Bolton added.

Willingness was noticed among senior Kosovo and Serbian governmental officials to consider border changes as part of the peace process earlier in August, although Thaci calls it “border corrections,” as a necessary evil that might assist both countries’ hampered accession to the EU.

So far, only German Chancellor Angela Merkel has downright denied territorial swaps as a satisfactory solution between the two countries, although the majority of independent experts have also spoken against it, warning it might completely destabilize peace in the region on the long turn.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department says the full normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo is “essential for regional stability.”

“Now is the time for the parties to be creative and flexible,” a State Department spokesman told international media in early August.

A joint letter sent to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on August 7 by more than two dozen civil society organizations in Serbia and Kosovo warns that “the division of Kosovo or the exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia” on the basis of ethnicity risks destabilizing the Balkans.

“More frequent mentions of the possibility of redrawing the borders send a very dangerous message to the citizens of Serbia and Kosovo, as well as to the entire region, that there is a real possibility of legitimizing a dangerous propaganda of ethnic ownership over the territory — a principle that has pushed the region on several occasions into bloody conflicts,” the letter was reported to read.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 25, 2018 16:50