By Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Serbian MP makes antagonising comments regarding tariffs and the border issue

Over the last few weeks, already fraught tensions between Albania and Serbia have been on the rise.

Then, on Thursday, Milovan Drecun, a member of the ruling SNS party in Serbia, told the country’s state broadcaster that Albania is doing everything in its power to complete the annexation of Kosovo.

“When you look at everything that has happened over the past several decades related to the Kosovo problem, it is quite clear that Albania has pretensions towards a part of our territory,” Mr Drecun said. “The unification of Kosovo and Albania will be an attempt by Albania to violently annex a part of our territory.”

His statement comes days after Albania and Kosovo signed and agreement to unify border control between the two countries in an effort to bring it in line with European standards.

The Serbian politician stated that he believes that the Albanians want to erase the border between Serbia and Albania in Kosovo and Metohija in March without formally abolishing it and that this constitutes a “violent” attempt to annex a part of their “territory”.

Edi Rama has been clear in his feelings on the matter, stating in his New Year’s message that “the opening of the border with Kosovo is just the beginning. We plan to do the same with Montenegro, Macedonia, and Greece.”

Recently Kosovo took steps to impose a 100% import tariff on all goods produced in Serbia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina, even in the case of international brands. These tariffs were first introduced in November and were at first limited to just Serbian and Bosnian brands, but were then extended to all products produced in the country, resulting in a reduction of exports of 4.5 million USD. The tariffs caused a lot of controversy with the EU demanding an explanation from the Kosovo authorities and others stating that it goes against the Central European Free Trade Agreement.

Then on the 29th of December, the Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic demanded that Edi Rama withdraw Albania’s recognition of Kosovo, a matter that was met with defiance in the Prime Minister’s aforementioned New Year’s message.

Not only has Serbia been making aggressive demands towards Kosovo and Albania, but they have been undertaking hostile acts in terms of blocking Kosovo’s attempt to become a member of various international organisations including UNESCO, and most recently INTERPOL- the result of which triggered the contentious tariff situation.

It is expected that this latest outburst from the Serbian government will result in further retaliations from Kosovo and/or Albania, as well as an increase in the determinedness of Rama in pursuing his plans for Kosovo.