Public Row Over Kosovo Mars Albanian PM’s Visit to SerbiaSoutheast Europe | November 11, 2014, Tuesday // 10:16| views
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama (L) and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (R) give a joint press conference in Belgrade, Serbia, 10 November 2014. Photo EPA/BGNES
What has been described as a historic visit turned into a diplomatic row on Monday when Albania’s Prime Minister said in Belgrade that Serbia must recognize Kosovo’s independence.
Edi Rama, the first Albanian leader to pay an official visit to Serbia in 68 years, said at a joint news conference with his Serbian counterpart Alexander Vucic that "independent Kosovo is an undeniable regional and European reality, and it must be respected."
Rama’s statement triggered an angry response from Vucic who said he hadn’t expected “this provocation”.
"What does Albania have to do with Kosovo? Kosovo is not part of Albania and it will never be,'' Vucic said.
Kosovo, the former southern Serbian province with majority ethnic Albanian population, declared independence from Belgrade unilaterally in 2008. While over 100 nations, including the US and many European countries, have recognized Kosovo’s independence, Serbia which considers Kosovo the cradle of its statehood and faith, has said it would never do so.
The spat between Rama and Vucic marred the visit that had been expected to patch up relations between the two EU membership candidates strained by last month’s football brawl that had already led to the postponement of Rama’s visit.
The Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade on October 14 was suspended after Albanian fans flew a drone over the pitch carrying an Albanian flag and a nationalist map of Greater Albania laying claims to territories held by present-day Albanian neighbours.
The incident ignited clashes between football players from the two teams on the pitch as well as police and fans on the stands. According to Serbian authorities, the incident was triggered by Edi Rama’s brother, Olsi, who steered the drone through remote control. Olsi Rama denied involvement.
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