Fmr envoy for Bosnia, Kosovo: A solution is possible

A possible territory swap between Kosovo and Serbia within an agreement on normalisation of their relations would change nothing, said Wolfgang Petritsch, Austrian diplomat and former special envoy for Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In a piece for the Kosovo daily Koha Ditore, Petritsch said the two presidents, Aleksandar Vucic and Hashim Thaci, are seemingly ready for compromise and that a solution is possible.

“Of course, this proposal carries along a huge trap. It contains an element of territory changes, the territory swap between two neighbours which is oriented to ethnic measures and could affect several square kilometres and thousands of peoples in the two ethnic communities,” Petrisch said adding that this proposal triggered negative reactions in Serbia, Kosovo and the international community “for a good reason.”

According to him, the proposal brings back the memories of the Yugoslav separatist wars whose final goal was “a brutal consolidation of ethnic-based territories.”

“We know the results. Except for Slovenia, the countries-successors of Yugoslavia remained multi-ethnic, despite the ethnic cleansing. Taking this into consideration, the territory swap between Serbia and Kosovo would change nothing,” Petritsch wrote.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, said the Austrian diplomat who served as the international community’s high representative in that country, solutions imposed from outside did not result in taking over the responsibility for res publica.

He finds it interesting that the help is coming from Serbia whose “main person” clearly rejected the secessionist rhetoric of the President of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska (RS). Petritsch added that he got convinced in this during the recent Alpbach Forum where he had a chance to discuss on this topic with both presidents of Kosovo and Serbia.

“Now such pragmatism should be applied in Kosovo and they should give a full support to a possible compromise, although they may not like it. Kosovo and Serbia, if accepted, will no longer be a part of European problem but could instead turn to their true tasks,” the Austrian diplomat concluded.

According to him, such outcome would mean a successful overcoming of the most complex obstacles on the road to the European Union, and for Kosovo, it would mean the desired membership, visa-free regime and proving the capability of the new state to act. For Europe, Petritsch added, this would mean a proof of its capability to solve the problems.