"If borders change, some Serbs might suddenly be in Kosovo"

Southeast Europe Studies professor at Graz University Florian Bieber said the proposed border change was "much more complicated in practice than as an idea."

Source: Beta
(EPA, illustration purposes)
(EPA, illustration purposes)

Professor Bieber told Euronews portal that the deal between Belgrade and Pristina on border changes might inspire similar ambitions in the region. He flagged Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro as areas that might demand change.

He thought that the president of Serbian and Kosovo, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci weren't "particularly concerned by the larger political implications."

"I think they are both very much motivated by personal, political survival and power," said Bieber .

He said the deal was more plausible now than it had been six months ago, but both leaders agreeing on the details of the change "rather than just talking about it" would be the real turning point.

When asked about whether EU might block the deal, Bieber said that the EU commissioner for enlargement negotiations , Johannes Hahn, implored the two leaders to make sure any eventual deal would not destabilise the Balkans. He assessed that it was a "high-risk strategy" because "something that seemed unachievable before suddenly becomes possible."

Bieber said that based on previous debates, four municipalities in the north of Kosovo which host a majority Serbian population could be given to Serbia while Bujanovac and Presevo, municipalities in Serbia with mainly ethnic Albanian populations, might be divided and given to Kosovo.

He added that borders could be rarely be redrawn cleanly along ethnical lines.

"There will always be people on the wrong side," Bieber said. In the case of border change some Serbs might suddenly find themselves in Kosovo.

On the other hand, for Serbs living in Kosovo that were not in any of the regions that would move, there was a risk that their minority rights might deteriorate, Bieber said.


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Politics Friday, August 31, 2018 15:09 Comments: 3
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