By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
PRISTINA, KOSOVO* – While Serbia and Kosovo signed an agreement in 2013 to normalize relations, tensions still remain between the two countries, especially in relation to borders. In an attempt to normalize, Presidents of the two nations have discussed a land swap, which falls along ethnic lines. Solving border disputes would also help speed up integration into the EU.
A potential swap would be handing northern Kosovo over to Serbia, which is predominately Serbian, for the Preševo Valley, which is predominately Albanian.
Members and supporters of the opposition party took to the streets of the capital on 29 September chanting “No bargaining with national land!” to protest the potential land swap. Opposition parties say that this land swap directly violates the territorial integrity of Kosovo. In previous statements the head of the opposition party, Avdullah Hoti, said that nobody should have the ability to mess with the borders of Kosovo. (Kosovo’s territorial jurisdiction was laid out in a UN Resolution in 1999). It is seen that the leaders are putting territorial integrity at stake just to normalize relations and please the EU.
At the same time, President Thaci of Kosovo visited the Northern part of Kosovo under consideration for the swap. Special police were deployed to the region as a result. This sparked alarm in Serbia, with the Serbian officials putting Serbian police and Military on high alert. Serbian Interior Minister called the Kosovar move, “an Albanian attack against the North of Kosovo.” Serbian news sources claimed that several Serbians had been detained.
For more information please visit:
Radio Free Europe – Thousands Protest in Kosovo Over Possible Land Swap with Serbia – 29 September 2018
Background on the land swap:
*All references to Kosovo are in relation to UNSCR 1244 (99).