“Senior government officials in Kosovo and Serbia have indicated a willingness to consider border changes as part of a peace process aimed at ending a dispute over Kosovo’s independence that has hampered both country’s accession to the European Union.

But critics on August 7 warned that the entire Balkan region could be destabilized by the idea of swapping a predominantly ethnic Albanian part of southern Serbia for mostly ethnic Serb populated parts of northern Kosovo.

Kosovo’s president, Hashim Thaci, has suggested that the idea of unifying Serbia’s southernmost Presevo Valley region with Kosovo should be raised during the next round of EU-mediated talks between Pristina and Belgrade, which are expected to take place in Brussels in September.

Ethnic Albanians form an overwhelming majority of the residents in the Presevo Valley, as well as in southern Serbia’s nearby regions of Bujanovac and Medvedja.

The area had been part of Kosovo until shortly after World War I. Kosovo was redesignated as an autonomous province of Serbia after WWII and had that autonomy strengthened substantially in 1974.” (RFE/RL)