The European Parliament Liberal and Democrat Group (ALDE) on Thursday welcomed efforts to normalize Belgrade-Pristina relations but expressed concern over calls to change borders and swap territory.
The group’s leader Guy Verhofstadt and MEP Ivo Vajgl, who is on an EU-Serbia committee, warned against the redrawing of borders and exchanges of populations because they always triggered conflicts in the region in the past.
ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt warned that land swaps are not the way to improve relations in the region.
“It is not through border changes and land swaps that you improve relations between countries in Western Balkans. On the contrary: the only way to guarantee long-term stability and prosperity is working on real reconciliation among communities, overcoming ethnic divisions and advancing a credible and gradual integration into the European project. The recent green light by the European Parliament for visa-free travel for Kosovo is one supportive step in this process,” he was quoted as saying in a statement by the ALDE group.
Verhofstadt said reconciliation, peace and the stability of the Western Balkans must remain a priority for all actors in the region.
“Ideas about redrawing borders and “exchanges of populations” have always triggered conflicts and wars in South Eastern Europe. Projects like these can only undermine the Euro-Atlantic integration prospects of all Western Balkan countries. The key issue as regards inter-ethnic relations is the appropriate protection of national minorities, ” ALDE MEP Ivo Vajgl warned. Vajgl is a member of the Delegation to the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee.