Hashim Thaçi: the borderline "on the agenda" Kosovo-Serbia

The delicate question of the border between Serbia and Kosovo is on the menu of "difficult" discussions between the two countries, confirmed the President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci, after meeting with his Serbian counterpart in Brussels on Thursday to try to revive the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

"This meeting (Thursday ed) was difficult but important. Each of the meetings where we are talking about peace represents a progress, a positive point, "he said in an interview with AFP on Friday in the margins of his visit to Paris on the occasion of the commemoration of the centenary of World War I.

"On the agenda of our discussions are the missing persons, the displaced people, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the issues of education, property, economic development, but also the demarcation of the 400 kilometers of border between Kosovo and Serbia." he explained.

"We will work together to define borders, but they will not be based on ethnic lines," he said. "Kosovo will remain multiethnic, Serbia too, there will be no displacement of people."

This summer, Hashim Thaçi and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic had, without going into details, discussed the possibility of changing borders to normalize their relations, twenty years after the conflict between Serbian forces and Kosovar separatist guerrillas.

According to media reports, a region of northern Kosovo populated mainly by Serbs would be exchanged for a region of southern Serbia populated mainly by Albanians.

This hypothesis has caused concern, both internally and among some Westerners. Germany and Britain are hostile, arguing a risk of destabilization for the entire region.

– Call to Macron –

"This process of standardization is very difficult and has very little chance of success, but as long as we continue the discussions, we are on the right track," said Thaçi the day after his meeting with Mr. Vucic and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini. The standardization dialogue initiated in 2011 under the auspices of the EU had been stalled for months.

Serbia – along with Russia and China – refuses to recognize the independence of its former Albanian province, declared in 2008 and recognized by more than 110 countries including the United States, and three-quarters of the world's countries. European Union.

Asked about his willingness to endow Kosovo with an army, much to the chagrin of Serbs who see it as a red line, Thaçi said that "Kosovo's armed forces will be well established. It's decided". "We are a sovereign country, and no one in Serbia can veto this project."

Thaçi plans to take advantage of his visit to Paris to ask French President Emmanuel Macron to support the ongoing negotiations process between Belgrade and Pristina.

"I will encourage President Macron to play an active role in the Western Balkans and support the search for an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia," he said.

On the issue of the visa waiver for Kosovo citizens, asked by Pristina, Mr Thaçi regretted hearing "hesitant votes" in the EU, although the European Parliament voted in favor in September .

"Kosovo fulfills all the democratic criteria demanded by the European Union. Now, a political decision must be made. I know that the European leaders are in pre-election campaign (in view of the European elections of 2019, ndr) but nobody has to be afraid of the Kosovar citizens ".

"I call on all member states to make the right decision and not to leave two million people unjustly isolated," said the president of Kosovo, whose inhabitants are the only Balkan nationals who still have to obtain a visa to enter the country. the EU.

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