Kosovo fails to pass resolution banning border changes

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — Kosovo’s political parties failed Thursday to pass a resolution preventing any leader, including the president, from negotiating border changes with Serbia.

All parties support the resolution but failed to pass it during a vote due to abstentions caused by political disagreements.

Kosovo, which is mostly ethnic Albanian, fought a war with Serbia from 1988-89 and declared independence from Belgrade in 2008. Serbia still refuses to recognize Kosovo’s independence and tensions persist over pockets of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo and ethnic Albanians in Serbia.

Both Serbia and Kosovo have been told they must normalize their ties to have a chance to join the European Union. The recent push for normalcy has included leaders in both countries suggesting that ethnic-territorial swaps could be part of discussions.

Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci proposed a “border correction” that would involve Kosovo getting southern Serbia’s Presevo Valley but giving nothing in exchange. He has not explained how Serbia would accept giving up part of its territory for nothing in return.

Officials in Serbia and Kosovo have suggested a land swap — Serbia’s Presevo Valley for Kosovo’s northern Mitrovica — could help the negotiations.

Many in Kosovo and across Europe fear that any border changes could lead to the risk of another war in a region still recovering from the ethnic bloodshed triggered by the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Avdullah Hoti, leader of the parliamentary group of the opposition Democratic League of Kosovo, alleged that Thaci’s idea came from Belgrade and Moscow “to hamper Kosovo’s consolidation.”

Though the governing coalition has strongly opposed any border changes, it nonetheless boycotted Thursday’s vote because the resolution did not include its idea of creating a negotiating team and a platform for negotiations with Serbia.

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