Serbian and Russian officials have condemned talk of the potential unification of Albania and Kosovo, with officials saying it carried the risk of igniting another Balkan war.
The comments on April 21 come after Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama told Politico that a union between Albania and predominantly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo could not be ruled out if European Union membership prospects fade for the countries of the Western Balkans.
Kosovo broke away from Serbia in a 1998-99 war and declared independence in 2008. It is recognized by 114 nations, but not by Belgrade or Moscow. Tensions are high between Serbia and Kosovo and between the ethnic Serb minority and the central government within Kosovo.
Serbian Labor and Welfare Minister Aleksandar Vulin on April 21 rejected any potential union of Albania and Kosovo and demanded that the EU and NATO denounce Rama’s statements and those by other Albanian leaders. He said such moves could lead to another war in the Balkans.
In his interview with Politico published on April 18, Rama said there could be a nightmare for Europe if EU membership for Balkan countries were taken off the table, with the potential for the region to “go crazy” and become a “gray zone in which other actors have more influence than the European Union.”
Rama said he would prefer to be part of a “big union,” such as the EU. “But if there’s no hope, no perspective, no space, then, of course, little unions may happen,” he responded when asked about a potential merger of NATO-member Albania and Kosovo.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also condemned Rama’s comments.
"Under the guise of hypocritical talks about stabilization in the region under the NATO 'umbrella,' the fundamentals of stability are being shaken and a course has been adopted toward recarving the Balkan borders, which is sharply increasing the degree of the conflictpotential," the ministry said.
The Russian ministry also assailed the United States and European Union for “timidly” keeping silent in the face of “sly attempts” to a “Great Albania project.”
With reporting by AP, Politico, TASS, and Interfax