Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Balkans: After Kosova independence, Albanians call for unification

Belgrade, 20 March (AKI) - Four years after Kosovo ethnic Albanians declared independence from Serbia, their co-nationals in other Balkan countries have stepped up a drive for unification with Albania proper, local media reported on Tuesday.

osovo prime minister Hashim Thaci said last week “it would be the best for Albanians to live in one state, if there were any border changes in the Balkans”. He was reacting to the demands by Serbs in northern Kosovo, who oppose independence, to remain a part of Serbia.

Over the past four years, Pristina and Tirana have practically eliminated border between Albania and Kosovo, issued joint school textbooks and agreed and joint consular representation abroad “to cut down costs”.

“Albanians should feel the same in Tirana and Pristina,” Albanian prime minister Sali Berisha told media. On Tuesday, Menduh Thaci, a leader of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, who make 25 per cent of the country’s two million population, joined the call for unification with Tirana and the creation of “Greater Albania”, which would be a home to all Albanians living in the Balkans.
“Macedonia is an artificial creation” and all Albanians, living in Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Greece should have the right to live in one state and unite with Tirana, Thaci told Tirana television “Ora news”.

Western powers, which were instrumental in supporting Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, oppose the creation of “Greater Albania” and local Balkan leaders have warned the move would destabilize the entire region.

But the latest surveys showed that 63 per cent of Albanian citizens favored unification, as well as 81 per cent of Albanians in Kosovo and 53 per cent in Macedonia.