Rama: The solution to the Serbian-Kosovo issue can only come with the full recognition of Kosovo
The new plan for the development of the region through the Berlin process and the recent statement of the chancellor Olaf Scholz that Albania is the closest to finishing the accession process, indicate a deeper partnership and a deeper dialogue both between the countries in the region and with the EU, he said Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania.
"We are in a completely new phase with the EU. Things like the Open Balkans and the Berlin Process could not even be imagined ten or more years ago, they were utopia. The reality now is that the EU and our region are moving towards a deeper partnership and deeper dialogue, but also greater mutual respect," said Rama today in a discussion organized by the Alant Council in Washington.
The Berlin process is an instrument and should work in parallel with the Open Balkans, he added. The process that started in 2014 is a high-level cooperation between Albania, Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina with several EU members like Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia and Germany. At the summit in Tirana, the strategic importance of the regional Sorbotka was emphasized in the context of geopolitical shifts in the world.
- The Berlin process and the new development plan give us new energy to never give up on the EU, Rama said and pointed out that the EU is under pressure from the Russian aggression in Ukraine to carry out a faster integration of the region.
"Albania has started the pre-accession process, the negotiations are ongoing, the progress report highlights the points that need to be worked on, the main thing for us is to carry out the tasks correctly, but the decision is not up to us", he said, but to all 27 member countries.
Rama highlighted the recent statement by Chancellor Olaf Scholz that Albania is the closest to completing the accession process with the EU.
The new proposal for recognition of the Community of Serbian Municipalities in northern Kosovo also contains points proposed by his administration. Rama indicated that he did not know if they would be accepted.
- I am not familiar with the details, but what I am sure of is that if the Kosovo authorities stick to such an agreement expressed by Prime Minister Kurti in Brussels, this could be a big step forward in favor of Kosovo and the region, said Rama.
He believes that the solution of the Serbian-Kosovo issue can only come with the full recognition of Kosovo and practically with a final peace agreement. The recent tragic events in Northern Kosovo have been a wake-up call about the potential of this unresolved issue for peace and stability in the region.
"Those responsible who were involved in this crime not only created terror in northern Kosovo, but also in Belgrade, which, however, did not condemn it, but declared a day of mourning for these criminals," said Rama.
He said he was not giving in to escalation and confrontation, but asked to "double and triple the efforts for normalization and peace".
- I encourage changes in the approach of the Kosovo authorities by accepting the community of municipalities with a Serbian majority. I see that the leaders of Kosovo show the will to move forward, Rama added.
In the broader context of Russian aggression in Ukraine and the war between Israel and Hamas, "the implications for the region could be dire if we do not focus and work around the clock to keep this conflict outside the borders of our region."
Albania is a multi-faith country where Muslims and Christians live in harmony, said Rama, who added that he is a "tragic optimist" for the region and Albania is doing everything it can "to leave a mark behind".
-Albania is here, and it will not disappear, but with the efforts of our people it will become extraordinary and a land of miracles.
Regarding the Refugee Reception Agreement between Rome and Tirana, Rama said that it will be a “port to welcome 36,000 refugees. But make no mistake, the total accommodation capacity is not only 3.000. So only after that many people will be able to be processed".
He said that the center will be built according to EU standards and according to all international laws and that Albania has accepted the cooperation with Italy against "hesitancy for such centers in other European countries".