|Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci. Photo: EPA/ VASSIL DONEV|
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci said on Thursday that a proposal for ethnic Albanians living in southern Serbia’s Presevo Valley to join Kosovo will be one of the topics at his EU-mediated meeting with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic on September 7 in Brussels.
“Whether it pleases anyone or not, I will even officially address the request of the Albanians of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac [Albanian-majority municipalities in the Presevo Valley] for that part [of Serbia] to join Kosovo,” Thaci told media.
He added that the idea of a border correction would address “the injustices that have been done to Albanian people”.
Suggestions of a territorial swap between Kosovo and Serbia as part of a final deal to normalise relations, with Kosovo receiving the Presevo Valley and Serbia getting Serb-majority northern Kosovo, have become increasingly controversial in recent week.
But Thaci insisted that any partition of Kosovo would not be acceptable.
“The ideas about [giving away] the [Serb-majority] north are the ideas of people who want the partition of Kosovo. I will not allow such a thing in any circumstance or at any price, and nobody should be scared by joining the Presevo Valley to Kosovo,” he said.
Thaci’s comments came after a whirlwind day of meetings, during which he sat down twice with Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, speaker of parliament Kadri Veseli and deputy premiers Fatmir Limaj and Dardan Gashi.
During the day, Thaci has also held a joint meeting with the US ambassadors to Pristina and Belgrade, Greg Delawie and Kyle Scott, at which the Brussels dialogue with Serbia was discussed.
“We also talked about the necessity of reaching a final agreement [between Kosovo and Serbia], which should be concluded with mutual recognition, Kosovo’s membership in the European Union, NATO and the United Nations,” Thaci wrote on Facebook after the meeting.
Two hours later Thaci also had a phone conversation with the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Wess Mitchell about the current situation.
“We agreed to intensify our efforts to reach an agreement that will once and for all end the hostilities between Kosovo and Serbia,” Thaci wrote on Facebook.
Mitchell also had a phone conversation with the Serbia’s Vucic about the same topic.
Thaci’s latest statements about a ‘border correction’ have caused the Kosovo opposition to propose a resolution saying that no one has a mandate to negotiate about Kosovo’s territory.
The opposition wants a parliamentary vote on the resolution on September 4, before Thaci’s meeting with Vucic in Brussels.
It is still unclear whether the opposition will get a vote tabled in parliament, but the proposal has the support of Prime Minister Haradinaj, who stated that if the territorial negotiation mandate issue is the only point of the resolution, he would vote for it.