Beyond the territory principle: Non-territorial approach to the Kosovo question(s)

  • Jelena Ćeriman, Aleksandar Pavlović Research Associate, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade
Keywords: Non-Territorial Approach (NTA), territorial approach (TA), Serbian-Albanian relations, Serbian cultural and religious heritage, Kosovo

Abstract

 

This article presents an attempt to approach the dispute over Kosovo between Serbs and Albanians from a non-territorial perspective, with particular focus on the preservation of the Serbian cultural and religious heritage. First, we argue that the Kosovo issue is at present commonly understood as an either-or territorial dispute over sovereignty and recognition between Serbian and Kosovo Albanian politicians. However, we claim that a lasting resolution to the Kosovo issue actually needs to account for at least three separate aspects: 1) status of Northern Kosovo which is ethnically Serbian and still maintains various ties with the Serbian state, 2) status of Serbian cultural and religious heritage, chiefly UNESCO world heritage Serbian medieval monasteries and churches and 3) the fact that the Serbian population in central Kosovo, i.e. south of the river Ibar, where most of the mentioned monasteries and churches are located, are located in small municipalities or enclaves of Serbs surrounded by vast Albanian populations. We examine the applicability of the non– territorial approach (NTA) to the Kosovo issue by analyzing the normative framework directly regulating the Serbian cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo, its preservation and protection, particularly of Serbian Orthodox monasteries, churches and other historical and cultural sites, while comparing these regulations to the existing normative NTAs in Croatia and Montenegro. Arguably, since most Serbian monasteries and churches are not included in any sovereignty negotiations, we point to the potential to combine territorial and non–territorial approaches, regardless of the continued obstacles in implementation arising from continued contestation of Kosovo’s sovereign status.

 

This article presents an attempt to approach the dispute over Kosovo between Serbs and Albanians from a non-territorial perspective, with particular focus on the preservation of the Serbian cultural and religious heritage. First, we argue that the Kosovo issue is at present commonly understood as an either-or territorial dispute over sovereignty and recognition between Serbian and Kosovo Albanian politicians. However, we claim that a lasting resolution to the Kosovo issue actually needs to account for at least three separate aspects: 1) status of Northern Kosovo which is ethnically Serbian and still maintains various ties with the Serbian state, 2) status of Serbian cultural and religious heritage, chiefly UNESCO world heritage Serbian medieval monasteries and churches and 3) the fact that the Serbian population in central Kosovo, i.e. south of the river Ibar, where most of the mentioned monasteries and churches are located, are located in small municipalities or enclaves of Serbs surrounded by vast Albanian populations. We examine the applicability of the non– territorial approach (NTA) to the Kosovo issue by analyzing the normative framework directly regulating the Serbian cultural and religious heritage in Kosovo, its preservation and protection, particularly of Serbian Orthodox monasteries, churches and other historical and cultural sites, while comparing these regulations to the existing normative NTAs in Croatia and Montenegro. Arguably, since most Serbian monasteries and churches are not included in any sovereignty negotiations, we point to the potential to combine territorial and non–territorial approaches, regardless of the continued obstacles in implementation arising from continued contestation of Kosovo’s sovereign status.

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Published
2020-10-01
Section
NON-TERRITORIAL AUTONOMY AS AN ENRICHMENT OF REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY