Kosovo president says no land swap to be talked with Serbia

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Kosovo’s president has rejected any idea of a land swap with Serbia.

Hashim Thaci said Friday in the Albanian capital Tirana that “a land swap would never occur.”

Last year, Thaci had proposed a “border correction,” with Kosovo getting Serbia’s southern Presevo Valley and giving nothing in exchange, without explaining how Serbia would accept that.

Tensions between the neighbors has persisted since Kosovo’s 1998-99 war for independence that ended with a 78-day NATO air campaign, then to be run by the U.N. Kosovo officially declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which Belgrade refuses to recognize.

The European Union has told Serbia and Kosovo they must normalize their ties if either is to have a chance of joining the bloc. Some officials in Serbia and Kosovo have suggested a land swap — specifically Serbia’s Presevo Valley for Kosovo’s northern Mitrovica.

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Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, starting in 2011 under the EU’s auspices, have been strained after Pristina’s decision to set a 100 percent import tariff on Serb and Bosnian goods until Belgrade recognizes its sovereignty and stops preventing it from joining international organizations.

Belgrade says it won’t take further part in the negotiations until the tariff is revoked.

Thaci also turned down the idea of a Greater Albania saying that “Kosovo’s union, the union of the Albanian nation is the union with the EU and NATO and the eternal friendship with the U.S.”

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