Albanian PM's address was "provocation"

Albanian PM Edi Rama said after the talks in Belgrade with Serbian PM Aleksandar Vučić that "Preševo is a bridge and Kosovo's independence is a reality."

Source: B92
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Rama's address, much longer than that delivered by Vučić during a joint news conference on Monday, was not translated during the live broadcast on the RTS TV, but it provoked a strong reaction from the Serbian prime minister, who referred to it as a provocation.

"About Kosovo we have different views, but the reality is one and unquestionable, both regional as well as European and must be respected. The recognition of Kosovo by the European countries is of great importance," said Rama.

Ethnic Albanians in Serbia's southern province of Kosovo in early 2008 unilaterally declared independence, but Serbia rejected the proclamation as a violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The Albanian media are reporting today that Rama said that Albania would "with pleasure welcome every new perception of reality by Serbia."

"Kosovo's independence has made the Balkans safer. We value and promote the dialogue between Serbia and Albania and see that dialogue as Europe's success,", said Rama, according to balkanweb.com.

He added that new generations will see Preševo - a town in southern Serbia that is home to members of the ethnic Albanian minority - as "a strategically important bridge between the two countries that share the European fate."

After this, Vučić said that Kosovo has always been and is a part of Serbia and "has nothing to do with Albania" - and that he will "not allow anyone to humiliate Serbia in Belgrade."

He added that he will "talk about Kosovo being Serbian when he travels to Tirana for a return visit."

"I regret this incident, that Kosovo was mentioned," Vučić continued as he addressed the joint news conference, and added that despite that, he would continue his talks with Rama.

"The reality is that Serbia's position is that Kosovo and Metohija is a part of Serbia, I'm glad that I can repeat it before Mr. Rama," said the Serbian prime minister, adding that he was sorry the Albanian prime minister took the opportunity to mention an independent Kosovo.

Vučić said that he viewed such a reference to Kosovo as a provocation, and that he was suprised by his counterpart's behavior, accusing him of breaching protocol by speaking about a topic that was not agreed on.

He added he will always be happy to respond to an invitation from Tirana, where he would also state that Kosovo is Serbian, something also contained in the Constitution.

Speaking about relations with Albania, the prime minister said that Serbia will do its best to sign all important agreements with that country.. "We will always give our best to develop good, friendly relations... I hope that Serbia and Albania will continue talks," Vučić said.

Rama's mention of Preševo comes as it is "almost certain" he would spend the second day of his visit there - although it is contrary to diplomatic protocols for a visiting prime minister to visit towns of his own initiative.

Rama's visit was originally planned for October but was postponed after a football match incident when a map of the so-called Greater Albania - an expansionist nationalist project - was flown above the pitch.

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