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Germany ‘skeptical’ on Kosovo-Serbia border correction idea

September 19, 2018

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas,, speaks during a news conference with his Albanian counterpart Ditmir Bushati in Tirana, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. Germany's foreign minister has called on Albania to work hard with its reforms in order to convince all European Union members to launch the membership negotiations next year. (AP Photo/Hektor Pustina)

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Germany’s foreign minister says that Berlin is skeptical about the idea of a border correction in the talks between Kosovo and Serbia.

Heiko Maas, visiting nearby Albania on Wednesday, said that “there exists the fear of a domino effect.”

“We are skeptical and discreet on that issue,” he said, urging both countries to “clarify and resolve it in a way that does not bring about other issues.”

Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci, has said that a “border correction” that would bring southern Serbia’s Albanian-dominated Presevo Valley into Kosovo would be included in EU-mediated talks with Belgrade.

Some Kosovo and Serbian officials have mentioned a deal based on where the ethnic Serb and Albanian minorities are concentrated — Kosovo’s northern Mitrovica region for Serbia’s Presevo Valley.

Thaci has turned down the swap idea but has not clarified how Serbia would agree to give away the Presevo Valley without something in exchange.

His idea, however, has found no support in Kosovo where all political parties consider any territorial swap or change as dangerous and unacceptable.

Kosovo declared independence in 2008, nine years after NATO intervened in the 1998-99 war to stop an onslaught by then-Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic against Kosovo ethnic Albanian separatists. Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo’s independence.

Both countries hope the seven-year-long EU-facilitated dialogue to normalize ties will reach a final stage with a bilateral, legally binding agreement.

Brussels has made it clear the EU will not accept Kosovo and Serbia if they don’t resolve their conflict.

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