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Spain and Albania exhibit their differences on Kosovo and their unity before the EU

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The President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, exhibited their differences on the independence of Kosovo on Monday, although there was unity in the objective that Albania and other countries of the Western Balkans fulfill their aspiration to join the European Union.

Sánchez culminated in Tirana the four-day tour that he has carried out through five Balkan countries and in which he has transferred Spain’s support to the process of integrating all of them into the European Union.

He has also asked everyone to make efforts to continue on the path of reforms that will allow them to achieve the goal of being part of the community club.

A request that was transferred to the Albanian Prime Minister in the meeting that both held before presiding over the signing of an agreement on cooperation in the investigation of crimes and starring in an appearance before journalists.

Appearance in which the notable differences between Spain and Albania on the independence of Kosovo were made clear.

A territory in which new tensions with Serbia arose last night, with blockades of border crossings and roads, a few hours after the start of application by Pristina of the ban on Serbian documents and license plates in Kosovo, a measure to which Serbs oppose.

Hours later, the Government of Kosovo decided to postpone for a month, until September 1, the application of that ban.

DUTY AND RIGHT OF KOSOVO

Rama recalled the position of Spain that does not recognize the independence of Kosovo and considered that it is a consequence of internal Spanish issues and is not due to any type of discrimination or prejudice against the Kosovar community.

He referred to the incidents of the past few hours to request an end to the escalation of violence, which he said “is not reasonable” since he considered that the Government of Kosovo has the right and the duty to apply the agreements to which they have arrived exercising its territorial sovereignty “which emanates – he said – from its independence”.

“The agreements with the other party are to be applied, not discussed,” he stressed before welcoming Kosovo’s decision to postpone the ban on Serbian documents and license plates for a month.

When asked about the reasons why Spain still does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, Sánchez said that he respects Albania’s opinion but that “two good friends may have their differences.”

One of them assumed that it is Kosovo, which, as he explained, Spain cannot recognize because there was a unilateral declaration of independence that it believes violates international law.

“We cannot be in favor of this recognition of Kosovo,” he insisted before specifying that this does not prevent Spain from supporting the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and that it hopes it will come to fruition.

Following Sánchez’s words, the Albanian prime minister commented that he has the right to say that “defending the opposite is true.”

“Don’t expect me to change my mind. History is going to prove me right,” said Rama bluntly, who nevertheless advocated working “stubbornly” for peace.

In addition, he insisted that Spain has its internal reasons for reading the situation in Kosovo in a concrete way.

AN ADVANTAGED STUDENT

But those differences did not prevent Sánchez from reiterating his total commitment to support the Albanian goal of joining the EU.

“If there is an outstanding student in the process of accession to the EU, it is Albania, for its commitment and for the reforms it has carried out”, pointed out the President of the Government, who recognized the “patience and solidarity” of the Albanian people in achieving objective.

But he considered that it would be “a disservice” to set a time horizon for Albania’s entry into the European Union and stressed that his wish is for it to be as soon as possible because it would be the best for the country, for the region of the Western Balkans and for the European Union.

An opinion shared by the Albanian Prime Minister, since he explained that when interacting with the EU they have learned the lesson that deadlines should never be set.

He did highlight the importance of the fact that last month Albania, which has the status of a candidate country for the EU, managed, together with North Macedonia, to unblock the negotiations to continue with the incorporation process, when Bulgaria lifted its veto.

Rama described Sánchez as “a friend of Albania” and thanked Spain for its “unreserved” support for his country’s aspirations to join the European Union.

In addition, he expressed his hope in the Spanish presidency of the EU during the second half of 2023 to decisively advance his European perspective.

After the appearance together with Rama, Sánchez held a meeting with the President of Albania, Bajram Begaj, with whom he concluded the agenda of his stay in the country and of the Balkan tour that began last Friday.

On his journey, in addition to supporting the aspirations of Serbia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Albania to join the EU, he has launched calls for unity to face the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

The war, in his opinion, is also an incentive for the enlargement of the European Union, and for this reason he has encouraged all these countries not to miss the opportunity and continue advancing in the reforms that make their membership of the European Community possible.

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