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Kosovo Serb house after March 2004 Duska

The Lausanne Principle

June 2004

Following the March riots, ESI published one of its most influential reports: "The Lausanne Principle". The report offered a ringing rejection of voluntary or induced "population transfers" (as in the infamous "Treaty of Lausanne" from 1923) and the logic of ethnic partition, arguing that any suggestions of partition amounted to a betrayal of Kosovo Serbs. ESI urged the international community to:

"explicitly rule out any solution for Kosovo based on territorial bargains or the expulsion of minority populations. Whatever its final status, Kosovo must remain whole and undivided, providing a safe home for all of its traditional communities. The Contact Group and the European Union should serve notice that any partition scheme will be vetoed in the Security Council."

A recent book on mass expulsions in Modern Greece and Turkey, describes this report as an "idealistic document" (Bruce Clark). It was, however, based on more than a year of field research, and sought to dispel some common myths about Kosovo Serbs. It also set out practical ways to help traditional Serb communities remain in Kosovo:

"The current reality of Kosovo Serbs differs from the common perception in important ways. There are still nearly 130,000 Serbs living in Kosovo today, representing two-thirds of the pre-war Serb population. Of these, two-thirds (75,000) are living south of the River Ibar in Albanian-majority areas. Almost all of the urban Serbs have left, with North Mitrovica now the last remaining urban outpost. However, most of the rural Serbs have never left their homes."

ESI found that the often-cited figure of more than 200,000 displaced Kosovo Serb was false. Soon international organisations started using ESI's estimates of displaced persons. By 2005, the Contact Group, still hesitant in 2004, also clearly ruled out any partition.

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