Highway set to bring
and Kosovo closer Albania
Reuters - Analysis - Tirana
Thu Jun 28, 2007 6:36AM EDT
By Benet Koleka
KUKES, Albania (Reuters) - The shortest route from Kosovo to Albania's sparkling Adriatic coast makes a big dog-leg through the long, deep glens of neighboring Macedonia.The direct route from Serbia's breakaway province is a 234- km (145-mile) drive of seven hours over mountains 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) above sea level.
At 35 kph (20 mph), it takes travelers through a seemingly endless coil of dizzying hairpin bends."Traveling on that road has been a real trip through hell for me," says Rexhep Shahu, a poet who often makes the journey to his home town Kukes, near the Kosovo border.
"It is a symbol of impossibility."
That will all change in 2009 when a new highway links Kosovo to
Ethnic Albanians make up 90 percent of Kosovo's 2 million population.Since the end of the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict, hundreds of thousands of them have braved the old mountain road to get to
Many plied the tortuous route this month to witness the
When Bush meets Russia's President Vladimir Putin at his family's Maine coast estate in the United States this weekend, the two leaders may reach agreement on Kosovo, or they may not.No one is betting, but Albania has already set to work on the new road -- a 180-km four-lane highway that will cut travel time between the two sister nations to two and a half hours or less.
DEVELOPMENT OR SYMBOLISM?
"The road goes through the poorest region of Europe and it will definitely revive it," Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha says of the 600 million euro highway,
As a result of the controversy, potential donors have stayed away.
"Kosovo will probably start planting wheat while Albania deals with livestock and vegetable-growing," Majko said.Analyst Mentor Nazarko said money would be better spent on a project such as European Corridor Eight, crossing Albania and Macedonia, or on domestic and regional roads.But Majko and Berisha wanted "a place in history", he said."The political dimension of this project looks bigger than the economic dimension," said Nazarko. "Spending 600 million euros is a rather pharaonic project for
"I would have worked for free just to see this road unite our people," said Nasuf Bimbashi, a Kosovo contractor.Still trying to repair the wounds of the decade of war triggered by the break-up of Yugoslavia, the West opposes any "Greater Albania" ambitions, just as it opposes any dreams of a mono-ethnic "Greater Serbia" or "Greater Croatia".
The pro-Western leaders of Kosovo and
(Additional reporting by Shaban Buza in Pristina)
But, the correspondent of Reuters in Tirana, does not say why tow Greek Banks "Alpha Bank" and "NGB" honored 250 million euro to Albanian Government for this highway, helping directly Prime Minister Sali Berisha, while the public investment particularly in Southern Albania are in minimum rates? Why the government has blocked some highway investments in southern Albania such are Tepelene - Levan, Lushnje - Vlora and Vlora Saranda? The paradoxes continues at a critically moment when Albanian and Kosovo Mafia are investing to buy lands and proprieties to Albanian southern coast line, "taking the rights to be favoring " from government to built tourist villages during Ionian Coast Line, over the lands of Greek old proprietress origin. Anyway, for the Greater Albania, all together the Albanians are working without nothing other to.......