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Albanian Foreign Minister Says Kosovo's Future Is In EU

Albanian Foreign Minister Ilir Meta visited Belgrade last week.
Albanian Foreign Minister Ilir Meta visited Belgrade last week.
BELGRADE -- Albanian Foreign Minister Ilir Meta says that although Belgrade and Tirana have different views on Kosovo's status, he believes they agree that the region's future is in the European Union, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

Meta made his comments to RFE/RL after a historic visit to Belgrade, where he met with Serbian President Boris Tadic and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic. Meta's trip on March 11 was the first-ever visit by an Albanian foreign minister to Belgrade.

Despite differences over Kosovo's independence declaration and a low level of bilateral cooperation -- especially in the economic sphere -- both sides stressed the importance of Serbian-Albanian relations for stability in the region.

Tadic, for his part, highlighted the significance of a bilateral agreement between Albania and Serbia on cooperation in the fight against organized crime, international illegal drug trafficking, and terrorism.

Meta told RFE/RL that both Belgrade and Tirana see the future of their countries -- and of the western Balkans in general -- in the EU. Regarding Kosovo, Meta said it is well known that "our positions on Kosovo independence are fundamentally different."

"We share the belief that despite key differences on the [Kosovo] status issue, bilateral and regional cooperation should not be conditioned by those disagreements," Meta said. "I believe that the same principle is valid even in the relationships between Pristina and Belgrade. Despite the disagreements between Kosovo and Serbian leaderships it is in the interests of Kosovo citizens and in the regional interests to solve all practical issues related with the daily life of Kosovar citizens through dialogue."

Meta added that Albania would cooperate fully with any investigation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or the Council of
Europe on allegations of organ trafficking during the Kosovo war "so these speculations can come to an end."