Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said an interview with Politico he cannot rule out a union between Albania and the breakaway province of Kosovo – formerly part of Yugoslavia – if the country’s EU membership bid is off the agenda. Rama added that such an alliance with Kosovo was not his own wish “but a possible alternative to the closed door of the European Union”.
“There is a lack of understanding, or a lack of vision in not realizing that this region needs Europe, but Europe needs this region too,” the Prime Minister said.
On April 19, Rama’s statement was seconded by the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, who expressed frustration over what he called “the lack of vision by the EU toward the region”.
“I have said also in 2013, and I can repeat that now: if the EU is closing the door for Kosovo, all Albanians in the region are going to live in the same space, in order to later integrate into the European family,” Thaci said.
These statements are added to the ones made a few days ago by the mayor of the Albanian-populated town of Bujanovac in the Southern Serbia, Jonus Musliu, who said that “a union of Albania and Kosovo is senseless without the Presevo valley, without Medvedja, Bujanovac and Presevo – now is a key moment for Albania and Kosovo to show Serbia that this is a part of Albania that must not be touched”.
The Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic reacted by saying that the mooted unification between Albania and Kosovo “will remain only wishful thinking,” and called on the EU to react. “If I said that all Serbs should live in one state, I would be hanged from a flagpole in Brussels,” Vucic added.
Reacting to this also, Dacic Serbia’s first deputy PM and foreign minister, said that Albanian politicians are becoming “the main threat to peace and stability in the Balkans and Europe.”
“The coordinated statements of Rama, Thaci and Musliu show that a ‘Greater Albania’ is the objective of all Albanians. Today Musliu added Nis (a town in southern Serbia), tomorrow it will be Skopje (in FYROM), Ulcinj (in Montenegro), Epirus (in Greece). Will the EU, US and Great Britain say something? If they do not do so this time, when a Greater Albania has reached Nis, they will be directly responsible for the consequences,” Dacic said.
He said that Albanians “need to chose their words carefully, as their protectors who bombed Serbia (in 1999) so that they could snatch Kosovo away from Serbia are not on the international scene”.
“That will never happen again. Serbia is not provoking anyone, but it does not fear anyone. Luckily, all of this is mere dreaming. However, experience has taught us that the road leading from a dream to a nightmare is short,” the minister said.
The US ambassador Albania, Donald Lu, also reacted to Edi Rama’s statements and said that “careless” calls for the unification of Albania and Kosovo undermined the regional stability in the Balkans. Similar statements were made by the US Embassies in Serbia and Kosovo.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the plan for the “Greater Albania” is being brought back again undermining the foundations of stability and under NATO’s auspices.
The representative of the European Commission also commented that, statements which can be perceived as interference in the interior affairs of neighboring countries are not helping in building good neighboring relations.
In 1999, NATO bombed Yugoslavia in response to what the alliance said was ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population of Kosovo. The province seceded from Serbia in 2008, but its political status and the formal declaration of independence remain questionable under international law.
Most EU member states welcome the secession of Kosovo, but Russia reacted with condemnation, saying the unilateral action creates upheaval in the Balkans. Serbia, for its part, does not recognize Kosovo as an independent entity as well.
If the Albanian plan is to go ahead, the wider region is in danger of erupting as there is a strong Greek indigenous population in Southern Albania (Northern Epirus) too, a reality that will further complicate things should borderlines begin to move again in the Balkans…