Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and his Kosovo counterpart, Hashim Thaçi, will meet tomorrow in Brussels in the framework of the ongoing dialogue (between Belgrade and Pristina) under the auspices of the European Union. Following the fYROMacedonian-Greek Agreement in Prespa, there is new momentum in the process with a possible definite resolution of the Kosovo issue.
Through EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, the bloc has set a deadline for reaching a final agreement, ending in the summer of 2019. In Serbia and Kosovo, recent developments at both political and social levels taking place on both sides have begun shaping the framework in which the Serbian and Kosovar presidents will act during negotiations.
Overall, the solutions to be discussed are three.
The first is inspired by the Dayton Agreement on the Bosnian issue and provides for a wide range of autonomy for northern Kosovo that will concern the municipalities of Northern Mitrovica, Zvecan, Leposavic, Zubin Potok, where Serbs are a majority. This scenario also provides for the assignment of a special territorial status to the historical monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church in southern Kosovo where, in the case of the the Gracanica Monastery, it will involve the city of Gracanica, too.
In this case, about 80 000 Serbs currently living in southern Kosovo will be left outside the autonomous region.
This solution is rejected by the Albanians who fear that in the future, the Serbs will constantly cause them problems, like they have to the Serbs since 1974 when they gained autonomy within the Socialist Republic of Serbia.
The second solution that may concern the negotiations over Kosovo is the unofficial Serbian proposal for delimitation on national criteria.
This idea had been had been devised in the past by academic circles in Serbia, and had been openly advocated (presented) as a necessity in 2001 by writer Dobrica Ćosić who was considered to be a supporter of the idea for a “greater” Serbia, based on the principle that all Serbs should live in one state. With this proposal, the northern part of Kosovo (four Serbian municipalities) would be annexed to Serbia.
Monasteries, churches and historical monuments of Serbs in the south of Kosovo are protected by the UN. For the Serbian population in southern Kosovo, there is no provision for this proposal. However, its respondents estimate that, over time, Serbs would gradually move to Serbia. After all, this process of the so-called “peaceful” ethnic cleansing of territories has been the case in Bosnia for years now, with the guilty silence of the West.
The third scenario, which is also considered the dominant one, is the exchange of land between Serbia and Kosovo. That is, to annex northern Kosovo to Serbia, and to compensate Serbia for the Preševo Valley in Kosovo, where approximately 80 000 Albanians reside. This idea is supported by Tirana and Edi Rama in particular, while in Kosovo it is advocated by President Hashim Thaçi. Although the latter is talking about “correcting” the map, it is almost certain that he implies a land exchange. These two regions are approximately of the same area.
As we speak, these three scenarios are still ideas, with none of them being an official, formal proposal, on which the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue could be based. Political leaders of both sides are still examining the situation, first and foremost in an effort to realise the popular current support in the interior of each state, while, at the same time trying to create a broad field of (local) social consensus. The only positive thing for now is the fact that both sides have taken a stet back from their maximalist aspirations, having accepted a compromising way of ending things. For such a multidimensional issue, which has burdened the history of Albanians and Serbs for centuries, even the awareness of the need for compromise, can be translated into progress… / IBNA