Prime Minister of Kosovo Albin Kurti has stated that the Balkan mini-Schengen initiative could be Serbia’s envisioning of a new Yugoslavia. Kurti said this is an “idea”, not a “project”, which appears to be unnecessary given the existence of the Berlin Process that aims to achieve the same objective.
In an interview for Kosovo’s KTV last night, shortly after his first visit to Albania, Kurti argued that his government supports regional initiatives. Regarding the Balkan mini Schengen initiative though, he warned of possible complications.
Kurti and Rama disagreed on priorities of future cooperation between the two countries in a press conference two days ago. Whilst Kurti argued that Kosovo and Albania should focus on strengthening bilateral cooperation in every field and also work on regional cooperation, Rama stated that the priority should be cooperation within the Balkan mini-Schengen.
Last night, Kurti argued the Balkan mini-Schengen idea was redundant, questionable and potentially dangerous.
“In my political formation, history is important. More than a century ago, tsarist Russia formed alliances to destroy two empires and succeeded. After a century we must form an alliance. Albanians are at the epicenter, on one side are Croats, Bulgarians, but also Sarajevo and Podgorica. If you look at the map of trends, especially on the Balkan map, we have such a partnership, but that cannot begin with Serbia. I have to be honest that the Balkan mini-Schengen is not a reality, it is more an idea than a project. We already have the Berlin Process framework for the six regional countries to cooperate. In this sense, there is nothing new here.”
He said he didn’t believe Serbia was trying to revive Yugoslavia as it were but that it might be trying to create a different kind of Yugoslavia, possibly implying the strengthening of economic and other influences in the region.
“I do not think this is an attempt to revive Yugoslavia, but I do not rule out that in Serbia they might be envisaging this as an initiative for the creation of the fourth Yugoslavia,” Kurti said, referring to Yugoslavia after WWI, WWI and the wars of ’90.
“The Balkan mini-Schengen has its dangers, I have said that it represents the fourth Yugoslavia, which Serbia wants, that is the intent of Belgrade. We have to be very careful as there are dangers beyond those smiles,” Kurti added, referring to Vucic and Rama’s perceived comradeship.
Regarding their recent meeting with Rama and disagreements on this point, Kurti said they had their best and most constructive meeting, and that both prime ministers were willing to overcome any disagreements that might appear, for the sake of the interest of their people.
“We have differences, but this was the most constructive and the best meeting in a very long time. This may be a new beginning in the relations between our two countries, for which little has been done due to [making matters] personal, in an absurd way, as this is about our people and not about us.
Our agreement [to form] an Interstate Commission is the first step. Most agreements have not been fully implemented, and there is a need for a new dynamism and I believe we will. If we have obstacles we should speak out and agree on how to overcome them,” he said.
Kurti did not exclude the possibility of Kosovo participating in the initiative in the future. He said that once they are aware of the content and documents from the past three meetings between Vucic, Rama and Zaev, the government of Kosovo will decide on further steps: “I do not a priori rule out participation at the table.”