Albanian prime minister Edi Rama has supported Kosovo’s right to impose reciprocal measures towards Serbia, and criticized the latter for the alleged “theatrical military maneuvers” at the border with Kosovo.
Rama is visiting Kosovo this Monday, while tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have escalated over a tax imposed last week on Serbian-licensed cars entering the neighboring country. Serbia has been implementing the same tax on Kosovo cars for more than 10 years, in breach of an agreement that expired two weeks ago.
A number of Kosovo Serbs blocked the roads at two border checkpoints, backed by the Serbia government, who also heightened alert of its troops, deployed armored vehicles to the border, flew fighter jets near NATO helicopters, and gave NATO an ultimatum in case Kosovo Serbs are threatened.
On Monday, during a joint press statement, the Albanian prime minister gave his full support to Kosovo’s prime minister Albin Kurti, and stressed the latter’s call to sit in talks with Serbia as the only way solution going forward.
Kurti has expressed Kosovo’s readiness to scrap the tax immediately, if Serbia reciprocates.
However, the real issue rests with Serbia refusing to recognize Kosovo. Accepting reciprocal measures with Kosovo would amount to treating Kosovo as a sovereign country, which Serbia refuses to do.
Rama urged Serbia to recognize Kosovo for its own and the region’s benefit.
“There is no doubt that in the first place, and above all, Serbia must recognize this irreversible reality, and it is really unfortunate that instead of concrete progress in dialogue towards mutual recognition and final reconciliation with the past, today we are witnessing Serbia’s theatrical military maneuvers on the border with sovereign state of Kosovo,” said Rama.
He added that Serbia’s military maneuvers are of no help to anyone, contrary to claims by Belgrade officials and “the ghosts of an army defeated 20 years ago,” that they are defending Kosovo Serbs.
“Serbs in Kosovo live without being threatened by anyone, their electricity bills are paid by the Kosovo government like in no other country in the Balkans and worldwide. And unfortunately these [military] maneuvers bring back to the forefront the shadows of the past, and incite the vandal nationalism of those who burn down public institutions that serve the Kosovo Serbs who are not victims of any state repression or ethnic persecution, but are hostage to the stagnation of the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia.”
Rama stressed that Kosovo government’s decision to apply the same tax as Serbia relies on the Brussels agreements and on its right as a sovereign country.
He also said that he has not spoken with Vucic since the conflict between Kosovo and Serbia over license plates began last week.
The Albanian prime minister will also meet all opposition party leaders separately during his one-day visit to Prishtina.