Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti reiterated that his government will not join “Open Balkan”, the regional cooperation initiative launched by Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia.
On Tuesday, speaking from Albania on a visit to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders of the Six Western Balkans (WB6), Kurti told reporters that the “Berlin process” initiated by Merkel and supported by the European Union made “Open Balkan” superfluous. .
“The Berlin process is inclusive and deep enough not to require other alternative variations,” he said.
The statement came after the Albanian prime minister accused Kosovo, at a press conference with Merkel, of relying on “conspiracy theories” to refuse to join his initiative.
Kurti urged reporters to ask Rama what he meant by “conspiracy theories,” and reiterated his government’s position that regional cooperation should take place within the framework of the Berlin process and under the surveillance of the ‘EU.
Referring to the three members of the Open Balkan, as well as the refusal of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro to join, Kurti said: “The Balkans are not just three states, they are not even six. The Balkans have at least 12 states, and the Western Balkans Six already have the Berlin process […] The only difference [between the BP and OB] is that the EU is not present in the latter.
Kurti argued earlier that the common regional market agreed as part of the Berlin process made the trio’s initiative redundant; that the latter has no vision of the region’s relations with the EU; and its creation has not been consulted with all WB6 countries.
He stressed that the EU’s approach in the region should focus on strengthening the rule of law in the fight against corruption; democratization, in order to weaken the autocrats; face the past, so that war criminals are not allowed to return to power; and reciprocity in relations between countries in order to guarantee human rights to minorities and avoid nationalism.
“There shouldn’t be European funds without European stocks,” he said.
Speaking about the dialogue with Serbia, Kurti said he focuses on the future status of relations between the two countries, and not on the status of Kosovo.
“We cannot compensate Serbia with our state or territory for the losses caused by the Milosevic regime two decades earlier,” he said.
Kurti criticized Serbian President Alexandar Vucic for denying the Recak massacre last month, in which Serbian troops killed 45 Kosovar Albanians in January 1999.
Hinting at Rama’s collaboration with Vucic to launch Open Balkans, Kurti said the Albanians should demand Serbia to recognize Kosovo, instead of showing understanding to Serbia for not recognizing Kosovo.
“Refusing to recognize Kosovo’s independence and refusing to recognize Serbia’s crimes are not two different things,” he said.
During talks with Merkel, Kurti said, she was not asked for Kosovo to join the initiative led by Rama and Vucic.
The Kosovo Prime Minister announced the four agreements that are expected to be signed within the framework of the Common Regional Market in Slovenia on October 6, covering the free movement of people using only identity documents and the recognition of diplomas and other qualifications.
These agreements have so far been blocked by Serbia, he said, as it refuses texts containing words such as “border, territory, state, country, government”, claiming that they refer to the State of Kosovo that Serbia refuses to recognize.
“For normal relations in the Western Balkans, it is not Kosovo that has to change, but Serbia. The pressure should not be on Kosovo but on Serbia, ”Kurti concluded.