Vienna based daily Der Standard argues that the goal of the upcoming regional conference in Berlin on the Western Balkans is to “bury” a plan on the exchange of territory, the portal B92 reports.
“The Chancellor intends to suggest that North of Kosovo receive a special status – this is also based and in the idea of the Community of Serbian Municipalities, which formation was agreed by the Brussels Agreement, but it has not been applied so far,” reported Standard.
The summit, according to Standard, is held at the initiative of Chancellor Merkel and French President Emanuel Macron, and the prime ministers of the entire region were invited, along with the heads of governments of Slovenia and Croatia, as well as Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo’s, Hashim Thaci.
The daily recalled that Germany was strictly against the idea of border change, which was supported by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, European Commissioner Johannes Hahn and John Bolton, Advisor in the US Administration, but also Austria and Hungary, and which was, according to the newspaper, opposed diametrically to the Western policy so far.
“My impression is that the dialogue has lost its power, so in that sense there will be no exchange of territory,” emphasizes Balkan expert Ivan Krastev.
Standard claims that the idea of exchanging territories caused great fear of persecution primarily among the Serbs south of the Ibar, and that the United States, meanwhile, according to diplomatic circles, gave up this idea because it was recognized that it would be linked to the legal and security and political difficulties.
Members of the National Security Council have returned from Europe to Washington worried and that now they are conveying that it may be easy to exchange forests and fields, but not places where people live.
In Berlin, according to the newspaper, it was certainly considered that it was more important to achieve a “good agreement” between Belgrade and Pristina rather than a quick one, and that France shares the same attitude, to which was above all important establishment of a greater rule of law in the Balkans.
Standard claim that the agreement should lead to the normalization of the “two states” within the process of approaching the EU.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, as the newspaper claims, wanted to get something for Kosovo’s recognition, and that he was supported by individual Europeans, which would lead to the concept of “territory for status”.
At a gathering in Berlin, a clear sign will be sent to Mogherini to suspend these aspirations, Standard wrote and quoted German MP, Manuel Sarrazin who said that the borders in the Western Balkans were untouchable.
“The former Austrian diplomat, who participated in the drafting of the Ahtisaari Plan, Albert Roan, said that in drafting this document, which is the basis of the Kosovo Constitution, it was started from the fact that in 21st century it was possible to assume that people in the Balkans can overcome the middle century thinking, and that they are capable of living in multi-ethnic societies. Roan believes that the fact that the exchange of territories is considered has t with the new US administration.”
He added that the Ahtisaari Plan would be “destroyed” by the exchange of territories, thus minority rights, as well as the complete construction, would then be brought into question, the Vienna daily wrote, portal B92 is quoting.