Monday, November 10, 2014

Albanian prime minister visits Belgrade

BELGRADE -- On Monday Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama is visiting Belgrade, which is a historic event in the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The last visit by a head of the Albanian state to Belgrade was recorded in 1946 when Enver Hoxha met with Josip Broz Tito.
The arrival of the prime minister of Albania would have been far less dramatic had there not been for an incident on October 14, during a UEFA qualifier football game between the teams of the two countries, which was abandoned after a drone carrying the map of the so-called Greater Albania was flown over the pitch.

Rama's brother, Olsi Rama, who was at the stadium, was suspected of controlling the drone. He was held at the stadium, and according to the Serbian authorities also brought in by the police, while according to the interpretation of the Albanian side, he was merely provided protection.

The story then developed in an extreme manner, with Albanians celebrating the incident across the region and more incidents occurring in Macedonia, Greece, Austria, followed by unrest in Serbia when businesses owned by Albanians were targeted.

Edi Rama, whose visit was postponed due to the incidents, was welcomed today in front of the Palace of Serbia and then met with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić. This will be followed by a plenary meeting of the delegations of the two countries.

Vučić and Rama will address reporters after the signing of agreements.

They spoke on the telephone on October 19 and agreed that the incidents during the football game were "very unfortunate" but that they should not miss the opportunity to meet and work to maintain regional stability.

They said at the time it was necessary to turn a new page in the political and economic relations between Serbia and Albania.

Albanian Minister of Defense Mimi Kodeli said at the time that the incident during the match Serbia-Albania will not affect Rama's visit to Belgrade.

In contrast, the mayor of Priština Spend Ahmeni advised that Rami against traveling to Belgrade. He decided otherwise.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić told the RTS recently that "the question was not whether the prime minister of Albania should visit Serbia, but what kind of message he will bring."

Before his arrival in Belgrade Rama said his trip would be "a new beginning for the whole Balkans."

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