By Fatjona Mejdini
As the number of Macedonian citizens taking summer holidays in southern Albania grows, Macedonian police are to be deployed for the first time in the coastal resort of Saranda.
The number of Macedonian citizens holidaying in Albania for the summer has grown to the point where Albania has asked Macedonian police to help patrol the resorts.
Following an agreement between the Interior Ministries of Albania and Macedonia, this summer, for the first time, police from neighbouring Macedonia will help Albanian police tackle not only road policing but also crime.
The head of Albanian Road Police, Mitat Tola, told BIRN that such help is needed in the peak season of July and August.
In return, he said, Albanian police would be helping keep order in the Macedonian resort city of Ohrid.
Macedonian police will be meanwhile patrolling and keeping order in the southern Albanian city of Saranda, which is becoming ever more popular as a holiday destination for Macedonians, partly because of its vicinity to the Greek island and tourist hub of Corfu.
“The help has become necessary given the rising trend among citizens from Macedonia to spend their summer vacations in Albania, especially in the south,” Tola said.
Since May, media in Macedonia have reported a marked increase in the number of people crossing Albania’s Qafe Thane border checkpoint en route to the beaches of the south.
Tola said the latest initiative was in the line with the collaboration agreed between police in the Balkans in the fight against crime.
For eight years already, police from Kosovo have helped out in Albania during the summer months, mainly in the northwest of Albania. Summer visitors from Kosovo mainly head for the beach areas of Shengjin and Durres.
Police from Kosovo also patrol with their own vehicles and equipment, besides joining patrols comprising police from the two countries.