Thursday, May 21, 2009

Biden makes his way to Priština

PRIŠTINA U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden will be visiting Kosovo this Thursday.

According to earlier announcements, he will first be visiting the Kosovo assembly. Police announced that they would be blocking off entire streets in Priština for several hours.Security measures are at their highest at the airport, on Kosovo’s main roads and streets, and there are American flags on display throughout the city, denoting the importance given to the visit.

This will be the first visit by one of the highest ranking official of the American administration since the Kosovo Albanians unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in February of last year. Biden is expected to address the Kosovo assembly, but before that, he will be meeting with Kosovo President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci.

Sejdiu will present Biden the “Golden Order of Freedom” during his visit. The U.S. Vice President will also be visiting the Serbian Orthodox monastery Visoki (High) Dečani later in the day, and will also be going to the U.S. Bondsteel military camp near Uroševac. Albanian language media have called Biden’s visit a “strong act of support from the United States of America for independent Kosovo” quoting Biden’s stance from two days ago in Sarajevo, that Kosovo's independence is an “irreversible process and that it is of critical importance for the stability of the region”.

Biden will be greeted in the streets of Priština by primary and high school students. There are also billboards in the town with Biden’s picture reading “welcome and thank you".

Albanians in Kosovo are not hiding their excitement regarding the visit, with Serbs in central Kosovo showing indifference, while those in the north have announced that they would be protesting. During his visit to Belgrade on Wednesday, Biden told Serbia’s senior officials that America is not expecting Serbia to recognize Kosovo and that this will not have an effect on further bilateral relations between the two countries.

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