Serbian President Alexander Vucic said he would seek a guarantee that his country would join the EU in 2025 as part of any agreement with Kosovo, which will open the gate for both countries to the community.

“If we ever come to an agreement with Pristina, Serbia must get a clear guarantee that it will become a member of the EU in 2025,” Vucic said.

According to his words, the negotiations on territorial exchange with Kosovo could last for a decade. Belgrade, however, wants to know that there is a real prospect for EU membership at the end of the process.

“It is hard not to smile when I listen to how people simplify things – I will give you three villages and, in return, I will take six villages,” Vucic added.

However, the accounts are not so simple, not least because the international community itself is divided on the issue of an exchange of territories – the US and some EU members support it, while Germany, Russia and others are opposing such developments. The proposal for an exchange of territories, which has been discussed in Belgrade and Pristina, provides for Serbia to take control over the northern part of Kosovo, predominantly populated with Serbs. In return Pristina will receive control over southern Serbian municipalities, predominantly populated with Albanians.

Earlier this year, the EC Strategy for the Western Balkans outlined Serbia as the country with the best prospect of membership by 2025, but it has made it clear that “perspective” does not necessarily mean accession.

Vucic also rejected the possible fears of other countries in the region from an agreement between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo. It only sees positives for the Western Balkans, which should become more stable, strong and more attractive in economic terms, and this will benefit all parties.

The campaign for the EU’s parliamentary elections in May 2019 and the rise of the far-right political parties in Europe are also factors that can prevent Belgrade and Pristina from reaching an agreement. Advocates of a possible deal between Belgrade and Pristina insisted that it would necessarily include recognition of Kosovo under international law.