Kosovo, Albania "connect divided nation"

PRIŠTINA -- At midday in Sunday, Albanian PM Sali Berisha and his Kosovo Albanian government counterpart Hashim Thaci opened a highway tunnel.

The 5.6-kilometer long tunnel is a part of the Durres-Kukes-Priština highway. The pair, along with other officials from Tirana and Priština, "symbolically met in the middle of the tunnel", reports said.

Albanian language media described this as a "historic meeting that signifies the connecting of a divided nation".

"Today, one of the Albanians' most beautiful dreams has become reality. This is a tunnel of the unification of the nation. Today we decided that there are no obstacles, that there is nothing that can divide us, not only spiritually, but also physically," Berisha was quoted as saying.

He also referred to the highway as the "Albanians' master piece", that will serve the well-being of the "entire region".

"We have today inaugurated a tunnel that connects not only Albanians among themselves, but Albanians with other nations of the region. Albania's seaside will serve not only to Albanians but the whole region," said Berisha.

Thaci continued to dub the road to be one of "hope and integration".

"This is a highway of hope, trust, peace, stability integrations in the whole region. It's a road of a new century," he stated, and added that the day was "great for Albanians no matter where they live".

"Tirana and Priština are closer to each other than ever before and it will remain that way. The main element of this spiritual, moral and physical closeness is Kosovo's independence," Thaci was quoted.

He was also heard saying that the road will give Kosovo "sea access" and that he expects it will "significantly influence the economic development of Albania and Kosovo", but also, "of the entire region".

The works on the highway will cost Albania one billion euros, while the job was awarded to U.S. company Bechtel-Enka.

The road is set to open in late June, and is expected to cut travel time to about three hours for those going from Priština to Durres via Tirana.