By EWB17.04.2019

BELGRADE / PRISTINA / BERLIN – Regional conference on the Western Balkans initiated by the French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in the focus of both regional and foreign media.

Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard reports that the goal of the upcoming regional conference is to “bear down” the plan on the exchange of territory, adding that the German Chancellor’s cabinet intends to propose special status for the Northern part of Kosovo.

Germany is strictly against the idea of border change, newspapers remind, which has been supported by the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn and Advisor in the US administration John Bolton, but also Austria and Hungary.

Der Standard claims the idea of the territory exchange has brought fear from persecution among Serbs living south of river Ibar. The US has given up on the idea according to the diplomatic sources, due to the fact the idea was connected with legal and security difficulties.

According to this media, Berlin thinks it is more important that Belgrade and Pristina reach a good agreement than a quicker one. France shares the same attitude on this matter, as it considers that it is very important to establish better rule of law in the Balkans.

Gazeta Express: Dual sovereignty without partition of territory

Gazeta Express writes that France and Germany will present a draft agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, which to a certain degree would accommodate requests of Belgrade, but excludes partition of Kosovo. It will propose dual sovereignty without border changes.

“There is a discussion about dual sovereignty. Kosovo will keep its territorial integrity intact, whereas Serbia will enjoy a kind of sovereignty over Serbs in Kosovo and Serbian Orthodox churches”, a source told Gazeta Express. According to the source, it is likely that Kosovo transfers a part of its sovereignty to  Brussels, who will then transfer it to Serbia.

What do officials from Serbia and Kosovo say?

President of Kosovo Hashim Thaçi says the meeting in Berlin is not about reaching an agreement or presenting a plan on Kosovo-Serbia issue.

He wrote in his Facebook post that he is in continuous consultations with international partners on developments in Kosovo and the Western Balkans. The Berlin meeting is just a continuation of interest Germany and France have in Kosovo and the region.

As he explained at the end of the meeting, the Western Balkan leaders and the hosts will issue a joint declaration confirming the European perspective of both Kosovo and Serbia.

Kosovo would be disappointed in case France and Germany fail to harmonize their position on visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens during this meeting, he wrote.

President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić said an extremely difficult period is ahead for Serbia, which will be faced with a request to recognise full independence of Kosovo, without divisions and in a full and integral territory of an independent Kosovo.

“Nothing good awaits us there and I expect nothing good. The only thing I expect is a start of requests for a new format where the goal would be a recognition of independence without Serbia getting anything”, said Vučić, adding he would not accept a resumption of any dialogue without scrapping of the taxes.

Dual sovereignty is just an assumption and it does not exist in the world, Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić commented on the matter.