Commenting on the Berlin Summit of the Western Balkans’ leaders, the New York Times (NYT) said that “if they are to have any hope of easing tensions between Kosovo and Serbia and breaking a deadlock in talks on the normalisation of relations, then analysts say they may first have to broker another peace, between Kosovo’s two leaders.
The author Barbara Surk recalled that Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci and his Serbia’s counterpart, Aleksandar Vucic, “suggested that a final settlement could include a territory swap and order changes at a meeting in Austria” last August, adding Thaci believed “such an agreement would result in Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo.”
But, she added that “Kosovo’s prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, is adamantly opposed to any territorial concessions. He has described the idea as “a shortcut to tragedy.” And his stand has proved a potent weapon in his long rivalry with Thaci.”
Surk wrote that “the proposals are profoundly unpopular both with Serbs — most of whom continue to consider Kosovo a part of Serbia and with Kosovars, who regard what is under discussion as a partition of their young country along ethnic lines.”
On the other hand, the NYT saw Haradinaj capitalizing “on resentment of what is sometimes seen as the president’s warm relationship with Serbia by moving in a direction that many say strengthens Kosovo’s statehood."
The other US newspaper, the Washington Post reported that the two sometimes seemingly at odds Kosovo leaders met the US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as a mediator close to President Donald Trump.
Thaci and Haradinaj have been insisting that the EU was impotent in solving Pristina – Belgrade relations and rely on the US to intervene.
The US embassy confirmed the meeting took place at the request of Kosovo leaders and reiterated Washington was supporting the two capitals’ dialogue.