news 09 May 17

Serbia PM Reignites ‘Greater Albania’ Row

After the former head of the OSCE mission in Kosovo said he is working on a project to unite Albanians, Serbian leader Aleksandar Vucic accused him of lobbying for a ‘Greater Albania’.

Die Morina
BIRN
Pristina
Serbian PM and recent presidential election winner Aleksandar Vucic. Photo: Beta/Sasa Djordjevic.

Outgoing Prime Minister and incoming Serbian President Vucic reacted angrily on Tuesday after the former head of OSCE mission in Kosovo, William Walker, said he wanted to help Albanians in Kosovo and Albania to unite.

“The purpose of this project that I am working on is for all Albanians, in Kosovo in the diaspora, in Albania. I’m working on a joint project for their unification,” Walker said on Monday during a ceremony to mark the 17th anniversary of Kosovo politician Ramush Haradinaj’s Alliance for the Future of Kosovo party.

“After independence, now is the time for the final step, for all of you to come together and realise all those achievements,” Walker added, according to Kosovo online newspaper Koha.net.

Vucic responded by accusing Walker of working for the Albanian cause while he headed the OSCE mission.

“Everywhere and at every level, Serbia will present this as the ultimate proof that Walker’s goal was never to protect human rights in Kosovo but to fight against Serbia and for the creation of a ‘Greater Albania’,” Vucic told Russian news outlet Sputnik, according to a B92 report.

“He said that he has a project, that he has a plan for the unification of Albania, Kosovo and the so-called Albanian diaspora. So, de facto, he has a plan to create a ‘Greater Albania’,” Vucic added.

The row follows another eruption of anger last month in Serbia when Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama suggested the possible unification of Albania and Kosovo if both countries felt rejected by the European Union.

The US ambassador to Tirana, Donald Lu, responded to Rama’s comments by saying that “careless” calls for the unification of the two countries “undermines the stability of the region”.

William Walker is a respected figure among Kosovo Albanians because he was the first international official to report a massacre in the village of Recak/Racak during the war in 1999.

Last year, work started to build a statue of him at the memorial site in the village.

Walker, who at the time was the chief of the OSCE ceasefire verification mission to Kosovo, said the victims were civilians and their killings were a “crime against humanity”.

Slobodan Milosevic’s government insisted however that the massacre was staged by the Kosovo Liberation Army to put the blame on Belgrade.

Vucic reiterated these claims on Tuesday, saying that Walker’s statements about the massacre were “lies” told to ensure that NATO could carry out its “aggression against the Republic of Serbia”.

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