Albania Gifts 400,000 Euros to Serb Enclave

r34After a meeting with representatives of the Serb minority in Kosovo, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced on Thursday the gifting of a 400,000 euro grant to the community of Gracanica.

Berisha held a joint meeting with Slobodan Petrovic, head of the Serbian Liberal Party in Kosovo, where he expressed his government’s desire for improved ethnic relations within Kosovo.

The Albanian premier also announced that he had invited Serbian President Boris Tadic for an official visit to Albania and the two governments were working out the details.

“President Tadic and I value developing the relationship between our two countries in order to open a new chapter,” Berisha said during the press conference. “President Tadic is welcome in Albania and I must say we are working on his coming visit, an invitation which he has gladly accepted,” Berisha added.

Petrovic praised the grant for the Gracanica municipality as “More than a symbolic gesture… sending a positive message for the citizens of Albania, Kosovo and the region.”

Albania-Serbia relations have enjoyed a sort of honeymoon period in recent months, despite holding completely opposite views on Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence.

In a meeting in October, Albania’s Foreign Minister Ilir Meta and his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic, agreed to strengthen cooperation between their two countries.

The joint press conference followed a regional conference of the so-called Visegrad states in Budapest on Tuesday.

While the countries hold opposed views on Kosovo’s independence, the Albanian minister underlined that “Kosovo’s future, similar to the future of the region, is European.”

Tensions between Tirana and Belgrade flared in August after Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha spoke of the “national unification” of regional Albanians during an interview with a local broadcaster.

The statement elicited a protest note from Serbia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, which described the comment as “provocative and a breach of its [Serbia’s] sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008, and has been recognized as a sovereign state by 63 countries, including the US and a majority of the EU. Belgrade maintains that it remains an integral part of Serbia.

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