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Kosovo PM Proposes Conference To Normalize Relations With Serbia

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj (file photo)
Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj (file photo)

Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has proposed an international conference to work out a final deal for his country and Serbia to normalize relations.

Haradinaj published a letter on Facebook on January 28 ​that outlines the proposal. He said it was sent to the United States, France, Germany, Italy, and Britain.

Haradinaj said in the letter that such a deal, which would allow for the immediate suspension of tariffs that Kosovo has imposed on Serbian goods, cannot include border changes, warning that territory swaps could revive old enmities in the Balkans.

The United States and the European Union must agree there will not be "any redrawing of the current borders of Kosovo, or partition of Kosovo, or land swaps of any nature whatsoever," the letter states.

Other conditions include visa-free travel for Kosovo citizens to the EU, the full implementation of an energy treaty signed between the two countries in Brussels, Serbia’s removal of all non-tariff barriers on goods coming from Kosovo and for Belgrade to publicly state it won’t act against "the aspirations of Kosovo as a sovereign state."

There was no immediate comment from Serbia over the letter.

Both the EU and Washington have pressed Kosovo to repeal a 100 percent tariff on imported Serbian and Bosnian goods that has strained international efforts to broker a deal between the former foes.

Kosovo imposed the import tax in November in retaliation for what it called Belgrade's attempts to undermine its statehood.

Belgrade has never recognized the independence of its former province, proclaimed in 2008 after a 1998-99 guerrilla war.

More than 10,000 were killed in the war, which prompted NATO to launch an air campaign in the spring of 1999 to end the conflict.

The possibility that Serbia and Kosovo might end their long-running dispute through a land swap was briefly floated last year.

But the proposal was immediately abandoned following a firestorm of criticism from rights groups as well as Haradinaj, who is fiercely against ceding any ground to Serbia.

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