Albanian PM to make first Serbia visit in 68 years

AFP , Monday 6 Oct 2014

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama will make a landmark visit to Serbia later this month, the first of its kind in 68 years, the foreign ministry said Monday.

The October 22 visit was made possible by improving relations between Serbia and its former province of Kosovo, populated mostly by ethnic Albanians, which unilaterally declared independence in 2008 despite opposition from Belgrade.

The April 2013 deal between Belgrade and Pristina on normalisation of ties was brokered by the European Union that the former foes, as well as Albania, hope to join.

"Kosovo will be on the agenda" of talks between Rama and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic, Albania's foreign ministry spokesman Glevi Dervishi said.

The talks will focus also on EU integration, economic cooperation and ethnic Albanians living in southern Serbia, he added.

Relations between Tirana and Belgrade have been sensitive over Kosovo, a former Serbian province, and the ethnic Albanian minority in southern Serbia, who often demand more autonomy.

In Belgrade, some see Tirana's interest as part of a plan aimed at creating a "Greater Albania" that would unite Albanian communities in Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and southern Serbia.

Kosovo's independence has been recognised by more than 100 countries, including the United States and most European Union member states.


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