In the focus/
The US is clear about the long-circulating rumors over border changes in the Balkans.
The US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, Matthew Palmer, says in an interview with Serbian Blic on Friday that the borders between the Balkan countries have been defined for a long time, while there are other areas where progress can be made at the momen in the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue.
Palmer says the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina and North Macedonia are fixed, and that no one is talking about changing the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, no one is talking about changing the borders of North Macedonia, because that is not an issue either.
The issue at the moment is the establishment of a normal relationship between Serbia and Kosovo and what Belgrade and Pristina can agree on, he said. “We will help them on their way to the EU. Serbia and Kosovo are striving for a European future. Kosovo wants to be part of the EU and to achieve this the parties must agree and a normal relationship is what the EU and NATO will seek.
In the meantime Palmer said there has been talk of some so-called non-paper, informal proposals for resolving contentious issues between the Balkan countries through changing borders during the last weeks. Asked if he too has brought one with him, Palmer finds the opportunity to point out that all disputes should be resolved within defined frameworks.
“I came empty-handed. But I come with a message. And the message is that the US and the EU are partners in the process of facilitating the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo. Miroslav Lajcak is the EU Special Representative for dialogue and other issues in the Western Balkans. Serbia and Kosovo are the parties to the negotiations and are leading the process with Miroslav Lajcak mediating the talks and the United States supporting the process,” he said.
“There are many things and topics that can be discussed, I reject these non-papers, for which no one accepts responsibility. When it comes to borders and territories, I do not see this as an issue where Kosovo is ready to engage, and I believe there are much more productive areas to talk about at the moment,” concluded the US diplomatic envoy.
The authorship of the non- paper in question has remained as an ‘orphan’ but it was linked with Slovenian PM when it was leaked but Ljubljana authorities have insistently rejected any connection with that document.
As a matter of fact land swap between Kosovo and Serbia was proposed by Albanian PM Edi Rama, Serb President Aleksandar Vucic and the former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci and got some support by the Trump administration but it lost steam after many EU and regional countries opposed it with Germany putting its veto against the scheme.
Some opponents of the proposal warned any border changes in the Balkans means war.