From: Exit Staff
Commissioner Várhelyi: Kosovo–Serbia Land Swap Is Secondary, Solution Is Important European Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi speaks during a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, February 5, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The European Commission does not exclude land swap between Kosovo and Serbia as an option toward an agreement between the two countries.

This was further reinforced on Thursday by Commissioner for neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi, after similar statements by the EU chief diplomat Jose Borrell.

During a meeting of EP Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) yesterday, Várhelyi said what’s important for the European Commission is an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia that would not endanger other countries in the region, and that the land swap was a secondary issue.

“Now on Kosovo, the land swap issue, I think that our line have been very clear right from the very beginning that what is key is that the two countries agree on a solution, that is agreeable to both and that does not run any risk for other countries in the region. Once we get there, I think that we can then look into different elements of if but this is the key.

In that regard, land swap, I don’t think it’s an issue, it’s a secondary issue. What is necessary is that first of all we have both actors/entities at that table, engaging in a meaningful way, and coming up with a solution, and I think this is where out High Representative Miroslav Lajcak is going to have a major input,” Várhelyi replied to questions by MEPs.

This is the second time since Lajcak’s appointment to mediate the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia that EC representatives openly refuse to exclude land swap as a viable solution for an agreement.

Borrell’s statement that “the EU could not be more catholic that the Pope”, if Kosovo and Serbia agreed to exchange territories, drew criticism from several political actors in Kosovo.

This approach of the new Commission appears to be in line with the previous EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini’s approach to support a possible land swap deal between President’s Hashim Thaci and Aleksandar Vucic. The two president have allegedly discussed for more than two year on such solution.

The United States also favors any deal agreed between Thaci and Vucic, including land swap.

Germany has firmly opposed a deal based on exchange of territories. In Kosovo, there is fierce opposition by political parties and by the people against the plan.