Border plan sparks fear in Kosovo’s Serb enclaves

Serbian President Aleksander Vucic, along with Kosovo’s Hashim Thaci, raised the likelihood final yr of redrawing their border

A potential land swap between Serbia and Kosovo, recommended by their leaders to finish certainly one of Europe’s most risky territorial disputes, has sparked considerations that the border could possibly be redrawn along ethnic strains and reignite festering communal ethnic animosities.

With few particulars yet made public, media studies say that the Serb majority northern border region across the city of Mitrovica can be included into Serbia underneath the plan, which would additionally see Belgrade hand over a primarily ethnic Albanian region in Serbia.

The trade-off would additionally see Belgrade finally recognise its former province as an unbiased state, 20 years after a bitter struggle between Serbia’s forces and professional-independence ethnic Albanian guerrillas that led to Kosovo breaking away from Serbia in 2008.

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, who together with Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic last yr raised the potential for redrawing the border, has insisted a revised version wouldn’t be drawn alongside ethnic strains.

– ‘Clear ethnic division’ –

However the plan has sent ripples of alarm by way of minorities in these areas, notably amongst ethnic Serbs dwelling in enclaves dispersed in Kosovo who can be unaffected by such a deal.

A territory swap would imply “clear ethnic division so that inside many years there can be no Serbs left in Kosovo,” stated Stefan Filipovic, a 24-yr-previous Kosovan Serb activist in Gracanica, a type of enclaves and a brief drive south of the capital, Pristina.

There are an estimated one hundred twenty,000 Serbs dwelling in Kosovo in complete. Of these some forty,000 are thought to stay around Mitrovica — and are doubtless set to be part of the land swap — whereas an extra eighty,000 stay deeper in Kosovo and would stay beneath Pristina.

Gracanica, residence to one among Kosovo’s primary Orthodox monasteries, is one in every of six primarily Serbian municipalities which are like islands surrounded by Kosovo Albanian neighbourhoods.

For Rada Trajkovic, an ethnic Serb politician in his 60s dwelling in Gracanica, the border change would amount to creating “two mono-ethnic spaces” and result in Serbs leaving Kosovan enclaves.

Trajkovic is one among few Kosovar Serbs prepared publicly to criticise Srpska Lista, or Serbian Record, the minority’s foremost political outlet. Most of Trajkovic’s fellow Serb colleagues back the Belgrade line of President Vucic.

– ‘Abandoned by Belgrade’ –

Long a taboo topic, a territorial change has the backing of america in addition to several EU officers.

Germany, nevertheless, is opposed, warning of the potential for a renewed flare-up of the hardline nationalism which has marked the nonetheless fragile Balkans up to now.

A NATO-led peacekeeping drive has guarded Kosovo since it broke away from Serbia in a bloody struggle in 1998-ninety nine that left more than 13,000 lifeless.

Border revision “is a really harmful, notably dramatic concept,” says…

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