Serbia has increased the prospects for a new agreement with neighbouring Kosovo with a suggestion about drafting of new zones and an opportunity to exchange territories between the two countries. The youngest Balkan state had separated from its north neighbour 10 years ago after a decades-long conflict, but the issue of its status remains far from resolved.

According to President Aleksander Vucic, the exchange of territories can be done on an ethnic principle. Northern Kosovo, which is predominantly populated with Serbs, can be handed over to Belgrade. In return, the area around the southern Serbian town of Preševo, which is predominantly populated with Albanians, can be given to Kosovo. Vucic plans a visit to the Serb community in September when he is likely to present the plan.

Although Serbia lost control over Kosovo, Belgrade continues to consider it part of its territory and Serbian leaders say they will never recognise its independence. Such a territorial exchange can be the most effective way to settle otherwise the difficult dispute in which historical, religious and geopolitical reasons play a role.

The territorial compromise will be difficult to be sold to the public in Serbia itself, after the bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo Theodosius warned that such an exchange of territories would cause the small Serb minority in Kosovo’s central part to emigrate. However, the exchange can be made with the support and mediation of Washington, as it became clear that the US gives the green light to the idea of Kosovo’s partiality.

This radical move could come after the replacement of former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster with his successor John Bolton, who is known for his anti-Kosovo position since he was the US Ambassador to the United Nations.

US President Donald Trump may have reached an agreement on the issue with Russian Head of State Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Helsinki.

Germany on the other side is against Kosovo’s division, as immediately reacted by its embassy in Pristina. According to German diplomacy, first there must be a normalisation of relations between Belgrade and Pristina.

So far, over 110 countries have recognised Kosovo as an independent state. Serbia, supported by Russia, has blocked Kosovo’s membership in the UN and countries such as Spain, Romania and Cyprus do not approve Pristina’s entry into the European Union.