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Kupchan: Land swap should be on the table of negotiations (Radio Free Europe)

By   /  13/08/2019  /  Comments Off on Kupchan: Land swap should be on the table of negotiations (Radio Free Europe)

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Charles Kupchan, a Senior Fellow and Director of Europe Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in the U.S., said in an interview to Radio Free Europe that he believes the land swap option should be on the table of negotiations between Kosovo and Serbia and that he would support it for pragmatic reasons. “I believe the land swap option should be on the table, especially if it offers an opportunity for the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia. Even though in a way it would pose a problem to the region because it would bring back the possibility of borders along ethnic lines, but at least it is an opportunity to overcome the blockade. This would then require the support from the peoples in Kosovo and Serbia, and now it is clear that there is no readiness for this, especially from the Kosovo side. Nonetheless, I think that the Europeans and the United States must try to push Pristina and Belgrade to resume talks, because there needs to be normalisation, and Kosovo, which is de facto independent, must become de jure independent in order to have long-term peace in the Balkans,” he said. Kupchan also said “there was a time when talks between Presidents Vucic and Thaci showed signs of progress, especially on the land swap option, whereby some part of northern Kosovo would be transferred to Serbia and a part of Presevo Valley would be transferred to Kosovo. But it seems that this has died away because of opposition from Prime Minister Haradinaj, opposition from Germany and other European parties, and we are now in a dead-end situation, mainly because of the tariffs that Kosovo has imposed”. Asked if a possible land swap could create precedents for other Balkans countries, Kupchan said: “the land swap option is very controversial and most analysts in the Balkans believe that it should be removed from the table. I think it should be there because I don’t see a more politically or morally unpleasant land swap than Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, which was a recreation of borders along ethnic lines. So, if there was a long-term agreement between Kosovo and Serbia based on land swap, I would support it for pragmatic reasons. I also think it is very difficult for Kosovo to move forward and function as a democratic state when a part of its territory does not want to belong to this state. The northern part of Kosovo has strong ties to Serbia, most Serbs there believe they should not live in Kosovo, therefore, it is a difficult matter”.

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