Land swap between Kosovo and Serbia is not and should not be on the EU’s agenda, EU Special Envoy Miroslav Lajcak has stated.
In an interview with the Austrian Press Agency (APA), Lajcak has seemingly contradicted his boss, EU top diplomat Josep Borrell who last week didn’t exclude land swap as an option for a Kosovo-Serbia agreement. Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi also seemed to reinforce Borrell’s message by downplaying land swap as “a secondary issue” compared to reaching an agreement.
Lajcak pointed to the strong reactions in Kosovo, in the region and worldwide against the idea of exchanging territories, adding that land swap “is not on the agenda and should not be on the agenda” of the EU.
“We need an agreement that calms the situation,” Lajcak said, and reactions to the land swap idea “have made it very clear that this would be the exact opposite”.
The EU envoy declined to comment on an alleged agreement between Presidents of Kosovo and Serbia, simply stating that he personally has not seen it.
He also declined to comment on whether US envoy Richard Grenell was involved in toppling the Kurti Government in Kosovo.
Lajcak emphasized that the US has always been the most important international partner of the EU in Kosovo, and that the situation should not change. Speaking of other actors in the region, name Russia and China, he said that “instead of worrying about the influence of others, the EU should make its presence more visible and credible.” In this context, he added that the EU must decide on visa liberalization for Kosovo as soon as possible.
The EU envoy said he aims at mediating a comprehensive legally binding agreement between Kosovo and Serbia during his one-year term, which would be in line with international law and accepted by people of both sides and countries in the region as well as all EU member states.
“There is no reason to delay the process but in the end quality is more important than a quick deal,” Lajcak reportedly concluded his interview.
He reinforced his main message through a tweet on Monday:
“Last week, I spoke to APA about the EU-facilitated Dialogue, which aims at achieving a legally binding normalization agreement between Kosovo and Serbia. This must be in line with international law and contribute to stability in the region. The idea of land swaps does the opposite.”