Serb president proposes Kosovo land swap

Serb president proposes Kosovo land swap

Serbia has raised the prospect of a new deal with Kosovo that could see the neighbours draw up new zones and swap territory to establish diplomatic ties. 

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic purportedly said without a “demarcation” agreement, Albanians could spread out throughout Serbia because of their high birth rates.

It enacted, North Kosovo, which is mainly populated by Serbians, could be handed to Belgrade in exchange for the area around the southern Serbian town of Presevo, which is largely Albanian. 

The Serbian Orthodox Bishop Teodosije, whose religious district covers Kosovo, has warned against the division because the dwindling Serb minority in central Kosovo would then feel increasing pressure to emigrate.

“All Serbs know that they lost Kosovo, but I will try everything in my might to retrieve what I can, so that in the end it’s not a total defeat or total loss,” Vucic told the Croat magazine Globus.

The magazine concluded that Serbia would recognise Kosovo in exchange for the return of northern Kosovo. 

Last week Vucic and Kosovo President Hashim Thaci met Frederica Mogherini, the EU foreign affairs chief, to sign a legally binding agreement between the two countries.

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj rejected the notion of a territorial exchange, saying that partition of Kosovo would mean “war”.

“Division for me is war. I say this without hesitation and it is dangerous to talk about division,” Haradinaj reportedly told Kosovar TV earlier this month. 

“There is no division, no exchange of territories, movement of the borders. It is dangerous, it cannot be done under these circumstances,” Haradinaj said, according to translators. 

Belgrade murder

Attorneys in Serbia have declared a weeklong strike to protest against the murder of a lawyer who defended former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal.

Dragoslav Ognjanovic, 56, was shot outside his Belgrade home in the Novi Beograd neighbourhood on Saturday and his 26-year-old son was wounded in the arm, the police said, who blocked off the area to search for the killer.

Ognjanovic defended Milosevic when he was tried in the Hague for war crimes committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

He was facing three indictments relating to atrocities carried out in Kosovo, Croatia and another alleging genocide in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995.

Milosevic died of a heart attack in 2006 before the end of the trial.

Ognjanovic has also defended prominent crime bosses amid speculation that his death might have been the latest in a series of mafia-style assassinations by battling drug gangs in Serbia and Montenegro.

Vucic said: “The clan war over the drug market is becoming something that the state must deal with in a more brutal way.”

The Bar Association of Serbia said Ognjanovic’s murder “showed in a most drastic way the circumstances in which lawyers in Serbia conduct their professional work”.

“This killing is only the latest in a series of attacks on lawyers, many of which have remained unsolved,” the association said, adding that it was offering a reward for information.


A church in Northern Kosovska Mitrovica, Kosovo. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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