GENEVA 10 avril (Presheva Jonë) The autonomous system is not a very popular solution and is not favored by the key players involved in the process. In the case of territorial exchange the three municipalities can be considered as valuable bargaining chips. Secondly, Northern Kosovo and the three municipalities of Serbia; Preševo, Bujanovac and Medvedja are ethnically the same.
Belgrade’s strong support for Northern Kosovo and its intense diplomatic pressure to integrate the land into Serbia’s territory can bring second possible solution to the present deadlock. There appears to be some possibility that Belgrade could consider a possible exchange of land with respect to the Northern Kosovo. Vague support for Kosovo’s independence could be expressed as long as Kosovo gives up part of its land within the north. Three municipalities placed in the south of Serbia could possibly be handed over to Pristina in return. These three municipalities consist of two neighboring municipalities Preševo, Bujanovac, and one, Medvedja, which is isolated.
These three municipalities consist of two neighboring municipalities Preševo, Bujanovac, and one, Medvedja, which is isolated
To understand the reason for the exchange of these territories, it is necessary to have a closer look at some key elements. Why is Northern Kosovo so important for Pristina? There are two reasons. Firstly, aside from the issue of territorial homogeneity, Northern Kosovo has for Pristina a strategic function as it includes a large water area, a dam with hydro-electric power plants and mineral resources that are crucial for Kosovo’s economy. Secondly, the territorial homogeneity of the existing land is essential. No newly created state of the former Yugoslavia is ethnically homogeneous and precedence could trigger an uncontrollable chain reaction. Moreover, the partition of land along ethnic lines does not have some very happy endings in history.
Why are Preševo, Bujanovac and Medvedja so valuable at the negotiation table?
Firstly, these three municipalities could be a very powerful card in Serbia’s hand. Preševo, Bujanovac and Medvedja were very closely tied to the so-called boundaries of the Socialist Autonomous Province of Kosovo in the era of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. At the time of the delineation of the present borders, these three Serbian municipalities were forcibly torn away from the former Province of Kosovo. In the case of territorial exchange the three municipalities can be considered as valuable bargaining chips. Secondly, Northern Kosovo and the three municipalities of Serbia; Preševo, Bujanovac and Medvedja are ethnically the same. To attach these areas to Kosovo in return for Northern Kosovo could, for the sake of appearances, bring more stability and fewer tensions into Kosovo and Serbia.
Such a territorial exchange could seem a good strategy for calming emotions and setting down a course for successfully resolving the Kosovo-Serbia dispute. Unfortunately, however, it has one controversial stumbling block. Creating ethnically more homogenous states could fire anger in other states in the Balkans such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania, and possibly spark fresh ethnic violence as well as dangerous discrimination against minorities.
* ( Central European Political Studies Review)