US Ambassador Calls Rama’s Pan-Albanian Talk ‘Careless’

By Fatjona Mejdini

The US ambassador to Tirana, Donald Lu, said ‘careless’ calls for the unification of Albania and Kosovo undermined regional stability – after Albania’s leader, Edi Rama, raised the prospect in an interview.

The US Ambassador to Albania, has criticised the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, for mulling the possible unification of Albania and Kosovo if both countries felt rejected by the European Union.

“The US Government supports the sovereignty of Kosovo and Albania. We are against careless talk of unification. It undermines the stability of the region and the European path of both country,” Lu told BIRN.

In an interview for Politico Europe published on April 18, Rama, said that if the doors to Europe were closed on the Western Balkans, other smaller unions might emerge, such as the union of Albania with Kosovo.

Rama insisted that this was not what he himself wished for, but added that if the EU failed to integrate the Balkans, anything could happen.

“The only way to keep the Balkans in this peaceful and cooperative mode… is to keep the path to the EU open … No one would like to turn [in] on themselves and look for smaller unions, everyone would like to unite in the big union. But if there’s no hope, no perspective, no space, then, of course, little unions may happen,” Rama said.

On April 19, Rama’s statement was seconded by the President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, who expressed frustration over what he called “the lack of vision by the EU toward the region”.

“I have said also in 2013, and I can repeat that now: if the EU is closing the door for Kosovo, all Albanians in the region are going to live in the same space, in order to later integrate into the European family,” Thaci said.

Rama’s and Thaci’s statements have angered some in Serbia, where politicians condemned them as irresponsible and dangerous. Serbia still claims Kosovo as part of its own territory. The former province declared independence in 2008. Most EU countries have recognised this, but Serbia, Russia, China and a number of other countries have not.

Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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