Wednesday, January 15, 2014

First visit by Albanian PM since 1946 "in February"

BELGRADE -- Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama will visit Belgrade, most likely in February, as part of his regional tour, said Serbian Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkić.
The exact date of Rama's visit has not been specified yet, considering that over the past weeks Belgrade was preoccupied with other important issues, such as the negotiations with Priština and the start of EU accession talks, Mrkić said for the Wednesday's edition of the Belgrade-based daily Politika.
The newspaper notes that this will be the first visit by an Albanian prime minister since Enver Hoxha in 1946.

"We are currently setting the date for his visit. We welcome his (Rama's) initiative to come to Serbia. We are prepared to meet with him and talk about improving relations in the region," said Mrkić.

The talks with the Albanian prime minister will focus on bilateral ties, as "the two countries are interested in cooperation in the areas of agriculture, tourism, transportation, education”, added the Serbian minister.

"We will also need to bring up the fact that the Serb minority living in Albania has not yet gained proper recognition. I have already raised this issue when I visited Tirana last year. We will need to specify the appropriate forms of treatment of the Serb minority, as the Albanian minority in Serbia enjoys all rights in accordance with the highest European standards," Mrkić emphasized.

When asked if certain delicate questions would also be raised, such as the recent joint sitting of the Albanian and Kosovo governments in Prizren, when the two sides signed an agreement on strategic partnership, Mrkić replied that Belgrade will not lecture anyone on what to do and how to do it, but stressed that the limits are well known.

He added that the Serbian side will caution the other party that anything that lies outside international conventions and oversteps the bounds of good neighborly behavior is not acceptable.

"However, my aim at the moment is not to focus on differences, as they are well known to everyone. The talks will certainly address all issues that concern both sides. We will not hesitate at any moment to say everything we think and how we see things, because this is the only way to build a friendship," concluded Mrkić.

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