From: Exit Staff
Rama and Kurti Discuss Balkan Mini-Schengen and Strengthening Cooperation

Albania and Kosovo’s Prime Ministers, Edi Rama and Albin Kurti’s talks focused on strengthening bilateral cooperation and on regional cooperation initiatives. They held a press conference following today’s meeting in Tirana, which was the first foreign trip for Kurti since his government was voted in parliament one week ago.

Balkan Mini-Schengen

Rama and Kurti seemed to disagree on priorities regarding the future of relations between the two countries, in view of the Balkan mini-Schengen initiative.

Asked about his government’s stance on the mini-Schengen initiative spearheaded by Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia’s governments, Kurti replied that this first meeting was mostly focused on the “Albanian macro-Schengen”, referring to his objective to strengthen relations between Albania and Kosovo.

“This is the first meeting; there are many topics we will discuss in the future. This [mini-Schengen] was a topic we talked about but briefly. Today’s meeting was mostly about the “Albanian macro-Schengen” rather than the “Balkan mini-Schengen.”

However, Kurti was contradicted by Rama, who stated that “there is no Albanian macro-Schengen without Balkan mini-Schengen.”

“I believe that the Albanian macro-Schengen is closely related to the regional one. If we harmonize our interaction, which we will try our utmost to do, the road towards a common space between the two countries, which has been closed for many years, will be open,” Rama added.

Rama said that he had convinced Serbia and other countries to withdraw their opposition against removing the Albania-Kosovo border:

“Today it depends only on us… and I want to stress that it was me who broke the resistance… No one, neither Serbia nor other countries can tell us that we are creating a Great Albania if we remove borders. That’s why we discussed with the prime minister today that we should start working with all agencies that guarantee security aspects, according to the Schengen model, and all other agencies that need to free the trade and other numerous barriers.”

The Albanian prime minister tried to underline that the mini-Schengen initiative was part of the Berlin Process, initiated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The process aims at bringing non-EU member states in the Balkans closer to each other and to the EU. Meanwhile during the recent years the countries’ progress towards EU accession has slowed down.

Strengthening of cooperation

Rama stated that the two prime ministers agreed to strengthen bilateral relations and speed up cooperation in all fields.

“We aim at a new speed in the direction of cooperation in all fields,” Rama said.

“We want to cooperate in the fields of economy, production, education, security and foreign policy. These are aspects on which we and our democratic, Western allies have shared concerns,” Kurti said.

Joint meetings of both governments will resume, with the first one between the Rama and Kurti governments taking place in Shkodra, Albania, as agreed previously between Rama and Haradinaj.

A joint committee with members from both governments and parliaments will be formed to oversee and forge the currently poor implementation of some 77 agreements signed between the two governments.

Rama assured Kurti that Albania supports Kosovo’s work for full international recognition as a sovereign democratic state and member of international organizations.