The Albanians of the Presevo Valley are looking to be physically present part of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, to present their demands.
Representatives of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, municipalities in southern Serbia, otherwise known as the Presevo Valley, say it is pointless to talk to Serbia about normalizing relations without the inclusion of the Presevo Valley.
The mayor of Presevo, Ardita Sinani, tells Radio Free Europe that their presence at the negotiating table in Brussels is necessary.
“The issue of the Presevo Valley should be part of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, both as a topic and through the physical presence of the elected members of the Valley. “It is dangerous the idea to decide the fate of the Valley without the involvement and without the will of the citizens of the Valley”, says Sinani.
Sinan made the comments, citing earlier reports that Kosovo and Serbia could agree on a solution involving the exchange of territories, in which case Kosovo would give Serbia a part of the Serb-majority north. , and would take the Presevo Valley which is inhabited by an Albanian majority.
Sinan says their permanent request remains union with Kosovo.
“If we are talking about change, correction of borders, then the Presevo Valley should be attached as a whole to the Republic of Kosovo. This has been a request of the Albanians of the Presevo Valley since the referendum in 1992 “, says Sinani.
She says that in order to avoid unilateral solutions that deepen the crisis and the conflict, the Presevo Valley should be included in the dialogue in Brussels.
The chairman of the Albanian National Council in Serbia, Ragmi Mustafi, says that peace between Kosovo and Serbia is achieved through the Presevo Valley.
Mustafi says for Radio Free Europe that they have made a request to the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, that the issue of the Presevo Valley be addressed within the dialogue.
“This is due to the fact that there can be no one-sided dialogue, where topics can be opened on the issues of internal regulation of the Republic of Kosovo and not topics of internal regulation of Serbia. This means that the issue of the legal-political status of the Albanians of the Presevo Valley should be opened “, says Mustafi.
Government of Kosovo: A new chapter of dialogue
The Government of Kosovo did not say whether representatives of the Presevo Valley will be part of the Kosovo delegation in talks with Serbia.
“As the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, has emphasized, the meeting in Brussels is a dialogue for dialogue, it is in the service of the new chapter of dialogue and agreement on its agenda”, it is said in the government’s response.
But, regarding the dialogue as a new chapter, the European Union has a different opinion from Prime Minister Kurti, as he insists that this is a continuation of the dialogue for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia.
Ahead of the meeting of the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vuiqi në in Brussels, which is expected to be held in June, EU officials have said that “this dialogue started in 2011 and will continue with the new meeting, at the high level that will take place soon ”.
Salihu: The EU and Serbia may be against the presence of the Valley in dialogue
The physical involvement of representatives of the Presevo Valley would be welcome, says analyst Fitim Salihu.
Even if this is not possible in this current format of dialogue, according to him, they can be present in this process through their ideas or their requests that they can submit to the Government of Kosovo.
But Salihu says this could not be well received by Brussels or then Serbia could seek the involvement of local Serbs in the dialogue.
“I am skeptical if the EU and Serbia would agree to be representatives of the Presevo Valley as part of the Kosovo delegation. Even if it were a fact that they did not physically participate, but their request was delegated through the Government of Kosovo, it would still be okay even if they are not present even though the best possible would be that they themselves to be on the table “, says Salihu.
Representatives of the Presevo Valley have repeatedly raised concerns about the passivity of the addresses of Albanian residents of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac.
According to the data of the Albanian National Council in Serbia, there are over 3,000 addresses that have been deactivated in Medvedja and over 2,000 in Presevo and Bujanovac.
With the mediation of the European Union, the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia began in 2011. Through this process, the aim is to reach a comprehensive agreement for the normalization of relations between the two countries.