Border deal between Serbia and Kosovo expected by next Spring

The sanctity of state borders, a cornerstone of public international law, is coming under increasing scrutiny as foes strive for a land deal.

Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic Shutterstock

Serbia and Kosovo are looking to want to redraw their borders’ challenging the sanctity of state borders as a fundamental aspect of public international law. According to Kosovo Deputy Prime Minister Enver Hoxhaj, a deal with Serbia which will enable both countries to progress towards joining the European Union can be expected by next spring at the latest.

Land deal

The possible land deal is being discussed as a solution to Serbia and Kosovo’s ‘frozen conflict’ and the refusal of Serbia to recognise Kosovo’s independence, which the former southern province declared in 2008. Kosovo, whose population of 1.8 million is mainly ethnic Albanian, declared independence from Serbia in 2008, a decade after NATO bombed rump-Yugoslavia to end the killing of Albanian civilians by Serb forces during a two-year insurgency. It is now recognized by more than 100 nations but not by Serbia, Russia, and five EU states. Serbia and Russia have blocked Kosovo from joining the United Nations. Western countries are concerned about the idea, with German chancellor Angela Merkel, stating the territorial integrity of Western Balkan states was ‘sacrosanct,’ and the British embassy in Pristina, Kosovo, saying it could be ‘destabilizing.’

Amicable negotiations

In an amicable process, Serbia and Kosovo have been working to redefine their borders in a process of negotiations for over seven years, but talks have stalled. However, with the summer break over Serbian and Kosovar presidents Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci have been in talks in Brussels under the auspices of EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini. The discussion centres on redrawing the border to bring parts of Serbia with a majority Albanian population into Kosovo in the hope of ending ongoing tensions between Serbia and Kosovo, and in turn permit both nations to move towards EU membership. Normalizing bilateral relations is a key condition for both Serbia and Kosovo to advance towards their eventual goal of EU membership. The Balkan neighbors agreed in 2013 to resolve all pending issues but have so far made little progress.

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