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News 15 Sep 17

Albania PM Pledges to Ease Kosovo Border Controls

Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama announced that Tirana and Pristina are working on easing the border system between the two countries to eradicate queues.

Edi Rama. Photo: Atlantic Council/Flicrk

Edi Rama said on Thursday evening that the border control system currently in place between Albania and Kosovo is “torturous” and should be simplified from the start of next year.

“On January 1 [2018], we want the Albania-Kosovo border to not be torture for our compatriots from the other side of the border, especially in the peak [summer] period, but to be a border where passengers cross normally as is the case with [borders] between Germany and France or Switzerland and Italy,” Rama told Albanian broadcaster Top Channel on Thursday evening.

He said that the planned new system was intended to resolve the problem of long queues at crossings.

“It is not right to force them to wait in queues to come see and taste our sea just because they don’t have a coast. Our sea is their sea,” he added.

Rama said that he spoke about the idea with Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Behgjet Pacolli on Thursday.

“We believe we can make this happen,” Rama said.

Rama said he saw the simplified border system sees as part of activities to mark ‘Skanderbeg Year’ – the 550th anniversary of the Albanian national hero’s death, to which the government has dedicated 2018.

“Skanderbeg Year will not be a period of moving back and will not be a period of folklore and nationalism but will be a period we will use to the maximum to do things that move us forward,” he explained.

In 2015 Albania and Kosovo have started to practice one-sided controls at their border crossing points but were forced to return to double controls on the insistence of the European Commission.

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