Borders vs. Numbers: Albanian National Minority in the South Serbia between Nation Building in Kosovo and EU Member State Building

Abdullah Sencer Gözübenli*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Serbia and Kosovo are two countries that want to join the EU as the ultimate goal. However, in order for this process to start, Kosovo, still not recognized by five EU member states, should be recognized by many countries including Serbia and these two former enemies have to solve the problems seriously to become allies. While the independence of Kosovo remains unacceptable for Serbia, today one of the main problems facing the parties is the border issues. Despite the fact that Serbia insists there is no state border between Serbia and its former province, the EU-mediated talks on the normalisation of relations between Serbia and Kosovo which includes the option of a border correction namely, land swap is taking place behind closed doors. The land swap solution suggests that Kosovo take control of the Albanian-inhabited Preševo Valley of South Serbia while the Serb-inhabited four northern municipalities of Kosovo would be associated with Serbia. But this controversial step, depending on whom you ask, is a historical matter that can lead to a war or a great compromise. This paper aims to take a comprehensive look at the solution of the land swap between Kosovo and Serbia on the side of Albanian minority in the South Serbia, considering that the balances in this region are very dynamic and to examine the importance of the EU membership motivation for solving such disputes. The analysis in this study has been conducted based on (a) interviews with political decision-makers in the Preševo Valley involved in talks about swapping land and journalists from the region, (b) observations and field research of author (c) objectives and priorities identified in the Brussels Agreement in 2013, Stabilisation and Association Agreement and instruments concerned with minority rights and the recognition of local autonomy (e.g. Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and European Charter of Local Self-Government) compared to comments from the latest country-specific monitoring works by the EU and Council of Europe on the framework of the EU-facilitated Dialogue for the normalisation of relations between two countries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-100
Number of pages20
JournalKwartalnik Naukowy Uczelni Vistula
Issue number60
Publication statusPublished - 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • land swap
  • border correction
  • minority rights
  • EU Conditionality
  • Western Balkans


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