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News 18 Oct 17

Kosovo Remains Hot Topic in Albania-Serbia Media

New research conducted in Tirana and Belgrade shows that while newspapers in both countries have a neutral tone when writing about each other, the tone becomes bitter when the subject turns to Kosovo.

Fatjona Mejdini
Illustrative picture by BIRN

Serbia's former province of Kosovo remains a hot issue between Albania and Serbia, judging by the tone that the media in both countries use when writing about each other.

The Albanian Institute for International Studies, AIIS, in collaboration with Germany's Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Tirana on Wednesday presented two reports analysing the quantity and quality of written press articles in the two countries from January to June 2017.

In Albania, the four print newspapers considered were Mapo, Panorama, Shqiptarja.com and Tirana Times, while in Serbia they were Danas, Blic, Politika and Informer.

Researcher Ledion Krisafi said that while most articles in the Albanian media during the timeframe where neutral about Serbia, "when it came to articles where Kosovo was included, the tone grows negative."

Out of 131 articles on Serbia published by the four Albanian newspapers, 70 per cent had a neutral tone, 16 per cent a negative one and only 9 per cent a positive one.

"When it comes to the economy between the two countries, the tone becomes positive," the researcher said.

Regarding Serbian media outlets, the overall number of articles mentioning Albania during the six month timeframe was 855, of which 385 belonged to Politika alone.

Serbian researcher Aleksandar Pavlovic emphasised that while around 70 per cent of the articles had a neutral tone, 184 of them had a derogatory tone and in 152 of those cases, the articles focused on Kosovo.

During the timeframe, the main issue reported in the media of Albania and Serbia was the current Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj's arrest in France.

The least reported event was the visit that Albanian former President Bujar Nishani paid to the Albanian community in Presevo, in Serbia.

Over the last three years, relationships between Albania and Serbia have started to improve starting with high-level visits that were not undertaken in decades. Political leaders have also paid more close attention to economic relationships.

However, Serbia remains resentful of Tirana'a ties to the mainly Albanian former province of Kosovo, which declared independence in 2008 - and whose independence Serbia has vowed never to recognise.

Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo are part of Berlin Process, created by the European Union to facilitate join trade and create better infrastructure in the Western Balkan countries.

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