A joint session of the governments of Kosovo and Albania has raised the spectrum of Greater Albania, a nationalistic project rejected by the EU, the US and the wider international community.
Albania on Monday (26 November) lent support to Kosovo’s 100% tariff on Serbian goods, which Pristina levied last week in retaliation for what it said were Belgrade’s efforts to undermine it on the world stage.
Kosovo on 21 November raised customs tariffs on Serbian and Bosnian goods from 10 to 100% after Serbia blocked its former province from joining Interpol, the international police organisation.
The European Union condemned the tariff, while Serbia’s president has said it amounts to a de facto trade ban.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Monday the measure was “a political reaction to the state that knifes Kosovo in the back.”
He was speaking to the press in the western Kosovo town of Peć (also known as Peja), where the two governments met to sign a deal to eliminate trade barriers on their border by mid-2019.
“Today is the time to set 100% tariffs in the north and to have zero tariffs in the south of Kosovo,” Rama said.
According to Albania’s Tirana Times, Rama called on the foreign ministries in Pristina and Tirana “to begin working on a common strategic draft that will unite Albanians by the year 2025”. He added that “I know very well what Belgrade or any other place will say but I see Albanian union as a necessity in the path to the EU.” He further said that the EU “should stop employing a two-faced approach.”
Rama posted on his Twitter account a photo with Kosovar politician Fatmir Limajn, with whom they make the sign of the Albanian eagle, a symbol of Greater Albania.
Me Fatmir Limajn, i sapozgjedhur Koordinator Kombëtar i programit të përbashkët të dy qeverive🇦🇱🦅🇽🇰 pic.twitter.com/luHqHBoZkB
— Edi Rama (@ediramaal) November 26, 2018
Other twitter posts show the entire Albanian and Kosovar delegations making the same sign.
Today, #Kosovo🇽🇰 & #Albania🇦🇱 at the 5th G2G held in Peja agreed to strengthen the cooperation in economy, trade, education and infrastructure with the aim to enforce the prosperity and development of our two countries. Together we will work to remove barriers on trade. 🇽🇰🇦🇱🇽🇰🇦🇱 pic.twitter.com/CeDbLa29I4
— Behgjet Pacolli (@pacollibehgjet) November 26, 2018
The comments deepened the ire in Belgrade, where Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić said that it made “no sense now to hold regional cooperation meetings after what Rama said.”
Albania is a key ally of Kosovo, a former Serbian province with an ethnic Albanian majority that has struggled to gain full global recognition of the independence it unilaterally declared in 2008, a decade after breaking away in a brutal war.
Serbia refuses to recognise Kosovo’s independence and has accused the pair of wanting to unite and form a “Greater Albania”.
At the meeting on Monday, Kosovo and Albania also announced the end of roaming charges on mobile phones used by their citizens.
The EU and the US have warned Albania to avoid “careless language” after its prime minister suggested a single president and single security policy for both his country and neighbouring Kosovo in a speech that infuriated Serbia.
Serbia has slammed a joint session of the govts of Albania & Kosovo, accusing them of a move to establish a "Greater Albania". Unclear whether this Belgrade's admission that frequent joint sessions of Serbia & Bosnia's RS entity govts part of their "Greater Serbia" project.
— Jasmin Mujanović (@JasminMuj) November 26, 2018