"Visit to be planned in coordination with Belgrade"

BELGRADE -- Albania's Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati said on Thursday that the program of Edi Rama's visit would be drawn up in coordination with the Serbian authorities.

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

This will be done "with mutual respect, trust and by taking advantage of the best practices out there," he said.

Bushati came to Belgrade to attend an informal regional meeting of ministers of foreign affairs and economy and told reporters he saw nothing wrong with Rama's intention to visit Presevo, which is a region where ethnic Albanians form the majority of the population.

Other Albanian officials have visited Presevo when coming to Serbia and so did Rama while his party was sitting in opposition, Bushati noted, adding that he had visited Preševo as well while being a member of the opposition.

He stated that he "did not know why Rama's visit to Preševo was such a problem," adding that "nothing would happen."

When asked if the idea of a Greater Albania was part of the official policy of the Albanian government, Bushati replied that he "did not have to explain that to the Serbian or any other government."

"Unfortunately, that idea has always been a nightmare to Serbia, but it has never been a part of the Albanian government's political project and political goal, which is to see the entire region in the EU," Bushati stated.

He called on the Serbian authorities to investigate everything that happened before, during and after the recent match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade, especially the provocations, incidents and violence.

"The Albanian government believes hooligans should not be in charge of sport and intends to work with all the countries of the region, Serbia included, on projects of mutual interest," he pointed out.

Commenting on the International Olympic Committee's provisional decision to allow Kosovo to take part in sporting events, Bushati responded that it was "more of a question for Kosovo's foreign minister than him," but that he felt it was "an encouraging decision sport-wise."

The match between Serbia and Albania in Belgrade on October 14 was abandoned after a brawl that followed the appearance of a drone with a map depicting the so-called Greater Albania, a nationalist project that would include parts of Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece.

The provocation was not condemned "in Priština and Tirana," Tanjug said in its report, adding that "on the contrary, Albanian footballers were welcomed as heroes and Albanians in the region celebrated the incident as a national victory."

This was followed by a series of provocations and attacks in Serbia and Albania, where ethnic Serbs, Albanians, and Greeks were targeted.

"The essential difference between them and us lies in the fact that Serbia has arrested all attackers and they (Albania) are still bragging about the drone and the flag of a Greater Albania," Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić stated on Wednesday.

He over the weekend warned that "a Greater Albania is not only Serbia's nightmare, but also the nightmare of Europe and all humankind and must be prevented."