What do Croatians think of Aleksandar Vucic
diplomacy Are the borders in the Balkans being redrawn?
Breaking taboos and drawing new boundaries
Despite its informal character, many people perceive the nonpaper as a provocation - both Serbs, Albanians and Bosniaks. So there is great excitement on all sides.
However, Serbia, which does not want to recognize the independence of the de facto independent Kosovo and is therefore exposed to constant pressure from the West, would benefit from such an exchange of territories. Likewise Croatia. The Bosniaks, however, are sticking to a unified Bosnia.
The mere mention of new borders in the Balkans is a taboo in itself. The dispute over borders and territories after the break-up of Yugoslavia triggered the bloody Balkan wars in the early 1990s, during which over 98,000 people were killed in Bosnia alone. This war past is far from over.
How sensitive this topic is is shown by the violent reactions on all national and denominational sides - the Serbian Orthodox, the Croatian Catholic and the Bosniak Muslim. "Any attempt to redraw the borders would threaten the peace," said the chairman of the Bosnian Party of Democratic Action (SDA) Bakir Izetbegović, for example. He described the attempt to "generate a perception" that some circles in the EU are considering the fragmentation of Bosnia as "very dangerous". For Izetbegović, the term "peaceful separation" means nothing more than the endorsement of the secessionist efforts of the political leadership of the Bosnian Serbs.
Despite all the indignation in the region, the warnings and assurances from Brussels that drawing new borders is out of the question, this proposal for the solution of the regional ethnic conflicts in the post-Yugoslav region is actually nothing new. The reactions may seem exaggerated to some, especially since it is just a non-paper from which the authors distance themselves. But the text falls on the fertile soil of the unresolved conflicts from the 1990s.
The "Franco-German" non-paper
Then at the end of April the Albanian newspaper published Koha ditore another nonpaper that the Albanians could live with but the Serbs couldn't. This supposedly "Franco-German" non-paper provides for extensive autonomy for the Kosovar territories, which are mostly inhabited by Serbs, and a special status for Serbian Orthodox monasteries and churches. In return, Serbia would have to recognize the independence of Kosovo.
But Serbia's President Aleksandar Vučić clearly rejects the recognition of Kosovo and even wanted to recognize a conspiracy against Serbia in this second nonpaper. The German ambassador in Prishtina, Jörn Rohde, declared that Germany had nothing to do with this supposed non-paper and even denied that it was a non-paper at all.
And Kosovo cannot achieve its independence because of Serbia's aggressive foreign policy backed by Russia. Serbia and Croatia repeatedly accuse each other of war crimes, even genocide.
A solution that would lead to relaxation is not in sight. This is why the mysterious Nonpapers caused so much excitement. Some interpret them as test balloons produced in Belgrade or Prishtina, some as a deliberate provocation, and some as a reminder of how fragile the peace in the Western Balkans still is.
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