Tirana, Albania | Aug 29 (Tirana Echo) – Albania’s President Ilir Meta has spoken against a possible land swap deal between Kosovo and Serbia, saying that any discussion between Belgrade and Prishtina should not change the current reality on the ground.
Meta made his comments during an interview for Albanian Daily News at a crucial moment when both Presidents of Kosovo and Serbia have hinted they may favor a change of borders swapping the north Mitrovica of Kosovo with the Presevo Valley of Serbia.
“Any attempt to impose border change patterns under these conditions would not only undermine the region’s stability, but would also endanger the spirit and principles of the EU which the Union has been invested for since its foundation”. – said Albania’s President.
Meta further said he supports the preservation of Kosovo’s territorial integrity as outlined by the Ahtisaari Plan.
“I stand by Albanian government in support of Kosovo’s effort in persevering for the stability, territorial integrity, and multi-ethnicity of the state of Kosovo based on important international guarantees, such as Ahtisaari Plan, the decision of International Court of Justice of Hague that legitimized the full compliance with International Law regarding the Independence of Kosovo”. – said Meta during his interview.
However, it is unclear what the true position of Albania’s government is so far.
Only two days ago, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama, said he agreed with EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn who had earlier hinted the European Union may accept a possible border deal between Kosovo and Serbia if agreed bilaterally first.
EU Neighborhood & Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn made his comments in the Albanian port city of Durrës during an informal meeting of Balkan leaders when asked about the EU stance on a land swap deal between Kosovo and Serbia.
“We will not accept any new members in the union unless they have solved their bilateral disputes first. What matters for us is stability in the region, and any new bilateral deal should not undermine the overall regional stability,” – said Hahn in Durrës.
Hahn’s comments follow comments by White House national-security adviser Amb. John Bolton who told RFE/RL the United States will not oppose a possible exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia as long as both Prishtina and Belgrade agree to a “mutually satisfactory settlement”.
Albania’s President echos concerns of other skeptical critics who have warned that a change of borders in the Balkans could start off a spiral of destabilizing moves across other fragile countries, notably Bosnia & Herzegovina and Macedonia.
During a press conference last week, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel said “the territorial integrity of the states of the Western Balkans has been established and is inviolable”.
Belgrade and Prishtina are involved in ongoing EU mediated talks to sort out their differences, while Serbia is under pressure to recognize its former province as an independent country before it can consider joining the European Union. The two Presidents are expected to meet in Brussels next week for the upcoming round of negotiations.
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