BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Serbia's foreign minister has called for a compromise over Kosovo that could end a dispute hindering both countries from one day becoming European Union members.
In an opinion piece published Monday in the pro-government Vecernje Novosti newspaper, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic suggested partitioning Kosovo along its predominantly ethnic Albanian and Serb parts.
Dacic said the division would represent "a lasting solution of the Serbian-Albanian conflict which can be reached only through an agreement in which everyone will win something and lose something."
Kosovo officials flatly rejected the idea, partly because it would mean that the small state would formally have to give up about one-fifth of its territory where Serbs represent a majority and reject rule from the capital, Pristina.
Outgoing Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj tweeted Monday that Kosovo is "a multiethnic democracy with internationally recognized borders."
He added that Serbia's renewed ideas for border change are "dangerous" and "unacceptable."
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, almost a decade after NATO intervened to stop a bloody Serbian crackdown against ethnic Albanian separatists. It's recognized as a separate nation by 114 countries, including the U.S. and most of the EU, but not Serbia and its allies Russia and China.
Dacic also said any attempt by Pristina to establish control over Serb-dominated parts of Kosovo "can be achieved only through war, which in these historic geopolitical conditions would be a lost battle."
The proposal is "the only realistic one that can be achieved quickly," Dacic said. "It does not mean that it will be accepted, but it's my duty to say it while it's still possible."
Under international pressure, Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to participate in EU-mediated talks on normalizing ties in order to advance their efforts to join the bloc. But Serbian nationalists want to ditch the EU bid and turn to Russia to avoid ever recognizing Kosovo, which many in the country consider the cradle of Serbian statehood.