Prime Minister Albin Kurti’s first foreign trip is taking place today in Tirana, Albania.
Kurti is meeting with Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama this morning, at 9.00am. They are expected to hold a press conference after the meeting.
He will then meet President Ilir Meta, Speaker of Parliament Gramoz Ruci, opposition leader Lulzim Basha and Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj.
According to Kurti’s statement before the trip, he will discuss bilateral relations and broader regional initiatives, including the controversial Mini Schengen. In an interview for Voice of America, Mr. Kurti said:
“I intend to visit Tirana and hold meetings with the institutional leaders there, with Prime Minister Rama, with President Meta, with Speaker Ruci, with opposition leader Basha and thereby discuss these issues together.
I am not against regional cooperation initiatives, but there must be the principle of reciprocity, and while the Republic of Albania knows our southern and western neighbors better, it is the Republic of Kosovo that knows our eastern and northern neighbors better and in this aspect we can be complementary.”
Kurti is under pressure to drop tariffs imposed by the previous government on Serbian goods after Serbia’s active and successful policy to undermine Kosovo’s statehood. He has pledged to abolish the tariffs immediately after both countries enact measures of reciprocity in politics, trade and economy. U.S. President Donald Trump’s envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue yesterday stated the U.S. wants Kurti to drop the tariffs unconditionally, and that they did not support his idea for reciprocity with Serbia.
Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj has stated that Rama asked him to drop the tariffs but Rama denies this ever happened.
Kosovo has also so far refused to attend any of the three meetings of the Mini-Schengen initiative spearheaded by Vucic, Rama and Zaev, which aims at creating a regional area for free movement of goods and people. Rama has exchanged harsh words with Kosovo leaders regarding their absence. Kurti has not unequivocally excluded that Kosovo might join the initiative.