Albanian premier Edi Rama’s suggestion that Albania and Kosovo could share the same joint president was described as impractical by analysts in Pristina and strongly condemned by officials in Belgrade.
Analysts in Pristina told BIRN on Monday that Albania and Kosovo should take serious steps towards practical cooperation instead of the idea of a having a joint president, which was suggested by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama during a speech to Kosovo MPs the previous day.
“Kosovo and Albania will have a common foreign policy, not only joint embassies and diplomatic offices, but why not one single president too, as a symbol of the nation’s unity, and a joint national security policy?” Rama asked in his speech on Sunday to the Kosovo Assembly at a ceremonial event to mark the tenth anniversary of Kosovo’s declaration of independence.
While Rama’s suggestion sparked furious reactions from ministers in the Serbian government, political experts in Kosovo questioned its practicality.
Kosovo-based analyst Imer Mushkolaj told BIRN that it was aimed at “attracting political attention”.
“Rama knows himself that his proposal is impossible to achieve. His statement sounds hypocritical if we take into consideration that both countries have elementary problems in cooperation, starting with customs tariffs,” Mushkolaj said.
“So it would be better to start working to improve things in practice rather making such statements that Rama himself does not believe in,” he added.
Adrian Prenkaj, who was an adviser to former Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga, also argued that Rama should be focusing on more practical issues.
“If Rama honestly want to deepen relations with Kosovo, he can start doing it by making a real assessment of the current level of implementation of agreements reached between the two countries,” Prenkaj told BIRN.
Prenkaj suggested that one practical thing Rama could have done to mark Kosovo’s independence declaration anniversary would have been to remove roaming tariffs on phone calls between the two countries.
“Beyond symbolics and statements, Albania and Kosovo still lack common projects on issues such as energy, culture, education and tourism… Nothing is hindering the two countries from creating more economic opportunities and jobs for their citizens,” he added.
Officials in Belgrade meanwhile expressed anger about what they described as ‘Greater Albania’ expansionism.
Nenad Popovic, Serbia’s minister without portfolio in charge of innovation and technological development, said on Monday said that the Albanian premier should be declared ‘persona non grata’ in Serbia because of his statement.
“This statement, which was delivered in Pristina, in Serbian Kosovo, on the occasion of the marking of the tenth anniversary of the unconstitutional decision by the Siptar [derogatory word for Albanians] separatists to secede, points to a clear and unequivocal plan for the creation of a so-called Greater Albania in the Balkans and on Serbian soil,” Popovic said in a statement.
Serbian Defence Minister Aleksandar Vulin also condemned Rama for allegedly seeking to create a ‘Greater Albania’.
“Greater Albania must finally, after centuries, be stopped in its expansion. I believe that Kosovo and Metohija is the right place for Greater Albania to be stopped,” Vulin said.