From: Bledar Qalliu
Albin Kurti: Albania’s Prime Minister Doesn’t Support Exchange of Territories between Kosovo and Serbia

Leader of Kosovo’s Lëvizja Vetëvendosje (LVV) party, Albin Kurti stated that Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama does not support the exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia.

The center-left LVV came first in the last snap general elections, with Kurti expected to become the country’s prime minister in a coalition with the center-right Lidhja Demokratike e Kosovës (LDK).

Kurti met with Rama in the latter’s office in Tirana for about 5 hours yesterday, after which he stated:

The prime minister of the Republic of Albania does not support the exchange of territories [between Kosovo and Serbia]

Kurti had earlier argued that his previously “very good” relationship with Rama had become cold after the latter’s support of Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaçi and his plan for a Kosovo-Serbia agreement through land swap. The two hadn’t met since 14 months, according to Kurti. Two years ago he had also opposed Rama’s suggestion for Kosovo politicians to approve an agreement for border demarcation between Kosovo and Montenegro, which was eventually approved later.

However, in an interview with ABC News yesterday, Kurti emphasized that despite possible differences between their leaders, the Albanian people in both countries expect their governments to collaborate closer than before.

When asked whether he truly believed that Rama would not support a plan for territorial swap, Kurti replied: “That’s what he told me, and that’s what I want to believe and what I have to believe.”

Rama had earlier expressed his support for any agreement between Kosovo and Serbia supported by both countries. He had not excluded a potential territorial swap but had instead claimed that “borders will surely change”, while comparing the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue with talks between Albania and Greece or Kosovo and Montenegro to delineate their borders. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, who is in staunch opposition to the land swap, had claimed that Rama favored it and supported President Hashim Thaçi in this plan.

Several politicians in Kosovo, Serbia, Albania and internationally claimed back then that Rama supported the plan pushed forward by President Hashim Thaçi of Kosovo and President Alexandar Vučić  of Serbia.

In addition, like many supporters of such alleged and unexposed plan, Rama had excluded support for new borders along ethnic lines, which in any case would be virtually impossible given that people of Serbian ethnicity live throughout all Kosovo.

Kurti added that Rama’s statements in the past were a result of him not wanting to contradict President Hashim Thaçi.

It is my impression that the prime minister of Albania could not go against the president of Kosovo, that’s why we have such statements by him.

Asked on his future government’s view on a possible unification of Albania and Kosovo, Kurti said that the two governments should start from an analysis of outcomes for bilateral agreements they have already signed:

Unification of Albania and Kosovo in all spheres, through integration and steps that bring them closer should bring about the full implementation of existing agreements and the signing of new ones. I would say [we need] to move from the common statement of strategic collaboration to some kind of interstate treaty, in order to have mechanisms and common institutions, and not only this kind of agreements that in any case are bilateral and determine us as separate parties.

The leader of LVV added that once his government is formed, the two countries “will have the best relations they ever had to date, as never before, toward coming closer together, integration and unification.”

Regarding the tariff imposed by the Haradinaj government on goods imported from Serbia, Kurti said that instead of removing it they will push for “full political, economic and trade reciprocity” with Serbia.