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News 04 Jul 13

Albania PM Retracts Kosovo Citizenship Offer

Prime Minister Sali Berisha declared that a decision to offer citizenship to ethnic Albanians living abroad will not extend to Kosovo’s citizens, despite a promise he made last year.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana

“This decision recognises the right to Albanian citizenship for all Albanians, except for the citizens of Kosovo,” Berisha said during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The citizenship offer was particularly attractive to Kosovo Albanians because Kosovo is the only country in the Balkans that does not have a visa-free regime with the EU's Schengen area.

People from Kosovo would therefore have found it easier to travel to the EU if they could have obtained Albanian citizenship.

 “I know Kosovo’s citizens will be hurt by this decision but they should resolve EU visa issues in accordance with the roadmap provided by the European Commission to Pristina’s authorities,” Berisha said.  

Berisha’s initial promise of citizenship to people from Kosovo came during the celebrations of Albania’s centennial anniversary of independence in November.

The promise came in the wake of a series of statements that angered some of his country’s neighbours by appearing to suggest he was advocating a ‘greater Albania’ that includes majority-Albanian areas beyond its current borders.

As a consequence of the Balkan wars of 1912-13, and the subsequent re-arrangement of borders in the Balkans, large numbers of Albanians live beyond the country's borders in neighbouring Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.

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