Kosovo rejected a compromise plan proposed by Serbia and aimed at resolving their long-standing territorial dispute and furthering both countries’ plans to join the European Union.
Serbia’s foreign minister had called for a compromise over Kosovo that could end a dispute hindering both countries from one day becoming European Union members.
In an opinion piece published Monday in the pro-government Vecernje Novosti newspaper, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic suggested partitioning Kosovo along its predominantly ethnic Albanian and Serb parts. In return, Dacic said Serbia would give up its claim to all of Kosovo.
Dacic said the division would represent “a lasting solution of the Serbian-Albanian conflict which can be reached only through an agreement in which everyone will win something and lose something.”
A “compromise between historic and ethnic rights” would also include autonomy for Serb enclaves in southern Kosovo, Christian Orthodox monasteries in the mostly Muslim state and “financial compensation for usurped Serb property.”
But Kosovar Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj rejected the idea, which would turn about one-fifth of its territory into an autonomous Serbian region that almost certainly would be hostile to Pristina.
Hoxhaj wrote on Twitter late on August 14 that his country is “a multiethnic democracy with internationally recognized borders” and will stay that way.
“Serbia’s renewed ideas for border change are dangerous & unacceptable,” Hoxhaj said.
Kosovo, a 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.
Kosovar Albanians, who are the ethnic majority in the small Balkan nation, oppose greater autonomy for Serb-dominated municipalities, saying that would give Belgrade more influence.
Dacic, who is also first deputy prime minister of Serbia, had argued that “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.”
He said that under his proposal, besides seeking autonomy for Serbian enclaves in Kosovo, Serbia would seek a protected status for Orthodox monasteries, and financial compensation for what Belgrade claims as its property, including industrial and energy facilities.
In the long-standing feud between the countries, Kosovo 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.