Missing and Internally Displaced First Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Topic

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic told that the first issues in the negotiations with Pristina on the normalization of relations in Brussels on July 16 would include the problem with missing and internally displaced people from Kosovo during the 1998-1999 war there and its aftermath.

“We are ready; I see the Albanians are as well, according to their media. We’ll fight”, he said.

Meanwhile, the US President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton consider that it seems USA lost opportunity in Belgrade – Pristina dialogue.  In an interview with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN, he said it seemed that Belgrade and Pristina had withdrawn from positions with some greater prospect they could bridge their differences.

Commenting on idea about the territory swap between Belgrade and Pristina, Bolton said that “It was the administration’s policy – if the parties themselves felt that as part of an overall solution adjustments to territory made sense, then the United States would support that.”

He added that “at the time in question, Europeans were looking at that as well, and many took exactly the same view. I understand from others in the Balkans, the concern that if some borders are changed all borders are at risk. I understand what they’re saying, but I think that fear is exaggerated.”

“If Kosovo and Serbia were to agree to land swaps as part of an overall solution, really are outsiders, whether from the United States or elsewhere, in Europe, going to tell them that the solution isn’t satisfactory? I don’t think so”, Bolton said.

“Within Kosovo, within Serbia, a land swap would be controversial on both sides, although obviously for different reasons. But if the leaders thought this was a way to reach an agreement and could persuade their respective parliaments, I just can’t see outsiders saying we’re not going to let you do that”, told Bolton and added “there were serious enough Europeans that convinced the experts both at the State Department and the NSC [the U.S. National Security Council] that it was worth allowing the process to play out”.

According to him, “We were far from certain that, with all of the other obstacles, the total agreement could be reached, and as we can see today it didn’t happen, but the progress of the negotiations was not negatively affected by the land swap idea. It gave space for Serbia and Kosovo to explore further. And, you know, failure is always a possibility, and failure is what we have here. Continued failure.”

Bolton thinks that the Balkans are not so unimportant for the Trump administration: “I think quite the opposite. I think we have focused on efforts by Russia to cause disruptions in the Balkans. Not necessarily to return to the days of the Cold War but certainly to extend and enhance Russian influence in the region which I think would have been harmful to US interests, but also to the interest of the Balkan countries themselves.”

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