The delicate issue of the border between Serbia and Kosovo is on the menu of "difficult" discussions between the two countries, confirmed the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, after meeting his Serbian counterpart in Brussels to try to normalize relations between Belgrade and Pristina.
"This meeting (Thursday, etc.) was difficult but important, and each of the meetings where we talk about peace represents progress, a positive point," he said in an interview with AFP on Friday in the margins of his visit to Paris on the occasion of the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War.
"On the agenda of our discussions are the missing persons, the displaced persons, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the issues of education, property, economic development, but also the demarcation of the 400 kilometer border between Kosovo and Serbia." he explained.
"We will work together to define boundaries, but they will not be based on ethnic lines," he said. "Kosovo will remain multi-ethnic, including Serbia, there will be no displacement of people."
This summer, Hashim Thaçi and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic discussed the possibility to change boundaries to normalize their relations, without going into details, twenty years after the conflict between Serbian troops and Kosovar separatist guerrilla fighters.
According to reports in the media, a region of northern Kosovo populated mainly by Serbs would be traded in for a region in the south of Serbia populated mainly by Albanians.
This hypothesis has caused concern, both internally and with some Westerners. Germany and Great Britain are hostile, which means a risk of destabilization for the entire region.
– Call to Macron –
"This process of standardization is very difficult and has little chance of success, but as long as we continue the discussions, we are on the right track", said Thaçi the day after his meeting with Mr. Vucic and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini. The standardization dialogue initiated under the auspices of the EU in 2011 was shut down for months.
Serbia refuses – together with Russia and China – to recognize the independence of its former Albanian province, proclaimed in 2008 and recognized by more than 110 countries, including the United States, and three quarters of the world's countries. European Union.
Asked about his willingness to provide Kosovo with an army, to the great annoyance of the Serbs who regard it as a red line, Thaçi said: "Kosovo's forces will be well established, it is decided." We are a sovereign country and no one in Serbia can veto this project. "
Thaçi plans to use his visit to Paris to ask French President Emmanuel Macron to support the ongoing negotiation process between Belgrade and Pristina.
"I will encourage President Macron to play an active role in the Western Balkans and support the search for an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia," he said.
Regarding the issue of the visa waiver for Kosovo citizens, Mr Thaçi, asked by Pristina, regretted having heard "hesitant votes" in the EU, although the European Parliament voted in favor of September.
"Kosovo meets all the democratic criteria demanded by the European Union, now a political decision has to be made, I know that European leaders are conducting a pre-election campaign (with a view to the European elections of 2019, NDC), but no one has to to be afraid of Kosovar citizens ".
"I call on all Member States to make the right decision and not to leave two million people unjustly isolated," said the President of Kosovo, whose inhabitants are the only Balkan nationals who still have to get a visa to enter the country. . the EU.