Belgrade analysts believe Serbs would suffer the most from territory exchange

Posted in 19 March 2019

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President of the Forum for Ethnic Relations Board Dusan Janjic keeps insisting that the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia resembles a patient in coma, when everybody wonders if it is worth to be brought back.

Janjic believes that a big mistake was made when presidents Thaçi and Vucic were allowed to talk about territory exchange.

"Both political classes in Kosovo and Serbia have their background in common, namely the 1990s and disintegration of Yugoslavia. As long as this process has not finished, those people will believe that only their vision is the right one, and their vision is ethnic division and nationalism," Janjic said.

He said that Albanian and Serbian leaders are not ready for real compromises, adding that with the current 100 percent tariff on Serbian products, it is not likely that the dialogue will resume.

President of the Helsinki Committee in Serbia Sonja Biserko also does not agree with the territory exchanging idea. She says that this is one of the most disadvantageous solution for Serbs in Kosovo, especially those in south of Iber, who would suffer the most.

"Recently, a survey on opinions of Serbs in Kosovo about territory exchange was conducted, and the majority was against. Even in the north, around 70 per cent of Serbs were against. They are aware that partition aggravates the situation for Serbs, particularly in the south, whereas those in the north get further marginalised, ceasing to be political and social stakeholders," Biserko said.

Biserko added that after 1999, Serbs wasted too much time to articulate the policy of new leaders, and gradually they ended up under the control of Srpska Lista.

"Upon establishment of Srpska Lista, the influence of Belgrade in Kosovo was reinforced. The party is currently in the Kosovo institutions; however, it does not at all represent interests of Serbs there, but rather interests of Belgrade. Srpska Lista remains a disturbing group with regard to Serbs in Kosovo, in particular because most of them are very much criminalised in north Kosovo," she added.

According to the human rights activist Biserko, the territory exchanging idea is not that new, given that they have worked a lot on it for many years in Brussels. Nevertheless, she remains optimistic that it will not be happen, mostly as a result of persistence by Germany.