A possible land swap between Serbia and Kosovo, suggested by their leaders to end one of Europe’s most volatile territorial disputes, has sparked concerns that the border could be redrawn along ethnic lines and reignite festering communal ethnic animosities. With few details yet made public, media reports say that the Serb majority northern border region around the city of Mitrovica would be incorporated into Serbia under the plan, which would also see Belgrade hand over a mainly ethnic Albanian region in Serbia. The trade-off would also see Belgrade finally recognise its former province as an independent state, 20 years after a bitter war between Serbia’s forces and pro-independence ethnic Albanian guerrillas that led to Kosovo breaking away from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci, who along with Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic last year raised the possibility of redrawing the border, has insisted a revised version would not be drawn along ethnic lines. ‘Clear ethnic division’ But the plan has sent ripples of alarm through minorities in these regions, notably among ethnic Serbs living in enclaves dispersed in Kosovo who would be unaffected by such a deal. A territory swap would mean “clear ethnic division so that within decades there will be no Serbs left in Kosovo,” said Stefan Filipovic, a 24-year-old Kosovan Serb activist in Gracanica, one of those enclaves and a short drive south of the capital, Pristina. There are an estimated 120,000 Serbs living in Kosovo in total. Of those some 40,000 are thought to live around Mitrovica — and are likely set to be part of the land swap — while a further 80,000 live deeper in Kosovo and would remain under Pristina. Published in Daily Times, January 14th 2019.