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Serbian Foreign Minister Says Partition Could End Dispute With Kosovo

RFE/RL's Balkan Service August 14, 2017

Serbia's foreign minister has put forward a compromise to resolve the country's differences with its former province of Kosovo, as Belgrade looks to gain traction in its drive toward European Union membership.

Ivica Dacic, a strong ally of President Aleksandar Vucic, wrote in an opinion article published on August 14 in the daily newspaper Vecernje Novosti that the drawing of boundaries between Serbs and Albanians, the largest ethnic group in Kosovo, would be a way to end what he called Serbia's "centennial problem."

In return, Serbia would give up its claim to all of Kosovo, he added.

"Everyone needs a lasting solution of the Serbian-Albanian conflict, which can be reached only through an agreement...where everyone will win something and lose something," Dacic, who is also first deputy prime minister, wrote.

He added that Serbia should seek autonomy for Serbian enclaves in Kosovo, a protected status for Orthodox monasteries, and financial compensation for what Serbia claims as its property, including industrial and energy facilities.

Kosovo's Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj rejected the idea, writing on Twitter that his country was a "multiethnic democracy" with "internationally recognized borders."

He added that "Serbia's renewed ideas 4 border change are dangerous & unacceptable."

Most Kosovar Albanians oppose greater autonomy for Serb-dominated municipalities, saying that would give Belgrade more influence.

The country of 1.8 million people declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and is recognized by 115 countries but not by Belgrade. Currently there are around 120,000 Serbs in Kosovo and most of them, mainly in the north, oppose the Pristina authorities.

Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority, is supported by the West. Serbia is a traditional ally of Russia, but Vucic has attempted to balance relations between Moscow, the European Union, and the United States.

Kosovo and Serbia have both expressed hopes of joining the EU and have agreed to talks sponsored by the bloc on normalizing ties. However, many Serbian nationalists oppose EU membership and are pushing for closer ties to Russia and do not want to recognize Kosovo as independent.

With reporting by Reuters, Bloomberg, and B92

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/serbia- kosovo-dacic-partition-could-end- dispute/28676209.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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