Monday, February 22, 2016
Serbian and Albanian PMs trade barbs at EBRD event in London
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama suggested on Monday Serbia was advancing more quickly along the EU path "because of the Russia factor."
SOURCE: TANJUG MONDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2016 | 17:03
His Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic replied to the remark - which Tanjug said was "a digression from the topic of the EBRD (regional investment) summit in London" they both attended - by saying he was "not aware there was an election campaign in Albania."
"The EU is more favorably disposed to Serbia than to us, as we do not have Russia. They keep Albanians in Kosovo without visa liberalization, keep telling us that we are doing fine, but that there is more to be done. And then, he flies to Russia - and gets the start of EU entry talks," Rama said "humorously," Tanjug reported.
Continuing in the same vein, Rama added this was "not a criticism" and that what he described was “well-played" - advising Vucic that there was "no need to justify himself for it."
To this, Vucic replied: "There's an election campaign in Serbia... I was not aware a campaign had also started in Albania."
Rama then said he was "merely supporting" Vucic in his campaign.
Rama's initial remarks came as Vucic was replying to a question from the audience about Serbia's ties with Russia in the context of EU integration.
Vucic said that despite Serbia's strategic goal of continuing EU integration, the country wants to preserve its traditionally good relations with Russia, "to which it exports agricultural products the most, and will continue to."
"I see no problem with that," said the prime minister, adding that he "leaves no doubt in all meetings from Washington to Moscow regarding the fact EU membership is Serbia's strategic goal."
Vucic also stressed that Serbia's "trade, that is, export" with regional countries was "three, four, five times" greater than with Russia - "which speaks for itself."
As the meeting in London was starting earlier in the day, the cameras caught Rama, who was seated next to Vucic, peering into the papers held by the Serbian prime minister.