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Albanian PM Steps Up EU Criticism, Intensifies Calls for Action on Serbia

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has joined in criticism of EU Envoy for Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak and Chief Diplomat Josep Borrell, calling on the EU Commission to act regarding the murder of a Kosovo policeman and the day of mourning called by Belgrade after the death of terrorist suspects.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, a Kosovo police patrol was ambushed by some 30 heavily armed gunmen, accompanied by armoured vehicles, leaving one officer dead and another wounded. The men fled to a local monastery, where they barricaded themselves in and traded gunfire with police for hours.

Four of those involved in what the EU called a ‘terrorist attack’ were killed.

Meanwhile, a 14 September meeting in Brussels between Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksander Vucic, flanked by EU officials, failed with no agreement found, participants disagreeing on what happened behind closed doors, and Kurti calling for Lajcak to be replaced due to ‘bias’.

Rama said that the current format of dialogue, facilitated by Brussels is clearly not working or offering any peace to those involved in the situation.

“Today it is clear to everyone that at least the current format of Brussels, where two men come from here and two men go in and out there, has nothing to offer peace in this new situation. I believe this is at least clear”, said Rama.

He suggested that the format of the dialogue be elevated to that of a conference where the so-called Franco-German plan, backed by the EU, is put on the table, and both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Scholz are present.

“Long before these dramatic developments, I have said and requested several times publicly and officially that the format of the normalisation dialogue should be raised to the level of a normalisation conference with the Franco-German plan as a guide in the framework of continuous talks,” he said.

“What we asked from our friends in Brussels and we ask today is the unequivocal punishment of the murder of an officer in the north of Kosovo by a criminal group and the punishment of the act of honour in Serbia to some criminals armed to the teeth who appeared in Basnjka for a demonstration of force and were annihilated by the Kosovo Special Unit,” Rama said in a press conference on Thursday.

He asked whether the EU is investigating the situation, stating “It would be welcome” but he has not heard anything from the EU or its spokesperson.

However, Rama said that “no investigation can change these simple and sufficient facts which are contrary to the values of the European community,” he said in reference to Sunday’s incident and the subsequently declared mourning period in Serbia.

Regarding the EU spokesperson’s comments that they will await an investigation, Rama said “What investigation does the EU expect, from whom? From the authorities in Kosovo? I do not believe that the EU would accept the investigations of an attacked state since Kosovo is a party.”

On Wednesday, Rama announced Albania’s first deviation away from its consistent alignment with EU foreign policy. He said that following Sunday’s incidents, Albania could not align with an EU statement calling for more dialogue between the two parties.

“We find it impossible to align with the European Union without seeing a second statement that addresses the problem of the last few days where a dramatic development has occurred after a police officer of the Republic of Kosovo was killed by a criminal group that was clearly ordered to terrorise northern Kosovo, which was followed by the declaration of a day of national mourning in Belgrade.”

“Until there is a second statement from the European Union, we will not align with the first statement. This is the moment to loudly condemn what happened in the north of Kosovo”, said Rama.

On Thursday, Rama again called out the fact that Serbia has failed to distance itself from the criminal group involved and has not declared the opening of a serious and independent investigation.

“But on the contrary, the Republic of Serbia chose to honour the victims by declaring a day of mourning,” he said.

Source: Euractiv