Kosovo and Albania prime ministers expressed differing positions on the Western Balkans “Mini-Schengen” initiative at a news conference today in Tirana.
Albin Kurti, on his first official foreign visit as Prime Minister of Kosova, addressed the media in Tirana during a joint press conference with counterpart Rama, saying that today’s meeting was more about an “Albanian macro-Schengen”, instead fo the ‘mini-Schengen’ defended by Rama.
Kosovo political leaders including Albin Kurti are reluctant to the idea supported by Rama and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic of creating a “Mini-Schengen” in Balkans. Kosovo leaders have boycotted three consecutive meetings of the so-called “Balkans Mini-Schengen” held in Serbia, North Macedonia, and Albania.
Despite disagreements Kurti thanked Albania for helping Kosovo during and after the war which ended in 1999. “Kosovo would not confront Serbia in war and peace, without Albania’s help,” Kurti said. Kurti also pledged to advance relations with his Albanian counterpart. “This is our first meeting and we will deal with a lot of issues,” Kurti said. Kurti admitted that he has discussed “briefly” with his host the proposal on creating a “mini-Schengen” in Balkans. “This meeting was more about Albanian ‘macro-Schengen’ rather than Balkans ‘mini-Schengen,” Kurti said.
But Albanian Prime Minister Rama disagreed with Kurti’s priorities. “No Albanian ‘macro-Schengen’ without Balkans ‘mini-Schengen’,” he stated. “With our interaction, we’ve opened roads of cooperation which were closed all these years between the two countries. This was beyond any imagination until yesterday, and not only because of Serbia,” Albanian PM Rama said.
The two prime ministers also discussed organizing a joint meeting of the two Governments in Shkodra and agreed to establish a joint commission which will be tasked to implement all agreements the two countries have reached over the years.