Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Vucic and Rama expected to discuss relations, infrastructure

Aleksandar Vucic will be visiting Tirana on Wednesday and Thursday while his talks with Albanian PM Edi Rama will be under special scrutiny of the world public.
Source: B92
The press conference in Belgrade during Rama's visit (Tanjug, file)
The press conference in Belgrade during Rama's visit (Tanjug, file)
The first visit of a Serbian prime minister to Albania comes amid "a new crisis in the Balkans," but also six months after the exchange of strong words between Vucic and Rama during the latter's visit to Belgrade.
The global media at the time reported about "the fragile relations between the two countries and the tense atmosphere at the prime ministers' press conference," describing the visit as "a missed opportunity." However, both sides are now coming out with much softer tones.

Speaking for TV B92 Vucic said that there "there are no heavy messages from Belgrade," while Rama said that Serbia and Albania "should be in the Balkans what France and Germany were in Europe."

Serbian, Albanian and foreign analysts think the visit is very important for the region, while Secretary General of the Regional Cooperation Council Goran Svilanovic said that in addition to establishing better relations, Vucic wants to talk about "everything that divides us currently."

"There are topics that simply must be talked about and on which they will not agree even after they have talked once, and two times, and three times. But as long as they talk, it is important to understand that this is a good thing," said Svilanovic, to Deutsche Welle.

AFP in the past days pointed out that the aim of the visit is to "repair the fragile relations between the two Balkan countries," mentioning also economic topics.

These could be the key topics on the table when Vucic and Rama meet.

Belgrade-based daily Danas states that the talks will be above all about the building of "the Nis-Pristina highway to a port in Albania," as well as "the reconstruction of the railroad through Kosovo to Albania."

According to the findings of this paper, infrastructure projects will be among the most important topics, while Traffic, Construction and Infrastructure Minister and Deputy PM Zoran Mihajlovic confirmed she would be in Vucic's delegation.

Mihajlovic in February announced the launch of the railroad projects and the highway, while a map of reconstruction of the road and rail corridors Serbia-Montenegro-Albania Vucic was presented by Vucic in August 2014 to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"When one road should start from Albania to Europe, it passes through Serbia, and when Serbia wants to demonstrate that it is a factor of stability, then it certainly develops infrastructure projects throughout the region," the minister said and reminded that there is already a joint working group on infrastructure projects.

The media in Tirana have similar findings, and the 24 Ore website states that Albania and Serbia have a key role in maintaining peace and stability in the Balkans and that they are "geo-strategically very important countries."

"In light of such a geopolitical situation indicative for the trend of relations between the two countries will be whether or not the joint projects that were talked about in August in Berlin will soon be presented," writes this website.

Albanian Ambassador to Belgrade Ilir Boca said he believed that "the main topics will be common strategic projects in the areas of infrastructure and energy, which would be partly funded from the EU."

"Strategic investments might lead us further on the path to stability and security and draw closer to Europe. That's what Vucic and Rama spoke about also in Brussels," he said.

Albanian media point out that Kosovo is not "the only bone of contention" between the two countries, but also "the controversial position of Serbia toward NATO and European politics and sanctions against Russia."

"We hope that we will have fewer of those topics and that we will pay more attention to the common interest of developing of our countries and the entire region," said Bocka.

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