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Serbian, Albanian Prime Ministers Vow Better Ties

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama (right) and Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic give a press conference after their meeting in Tirana on May 27.

The prime ministers of Serbia and Albania have pledged to work toward better ties as they met in Tirana.

"Our government's job is to look to the future, and for us that future means good relations with Albania," Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia said in the Albanian capital on May 27.

Albania's Edi Rama said his country and Serbia, which have both applied for EU membership, have "a historic chance to return peace to this region and build coexistence."

Both Vucic and Rama acknowledged their differences over Kosovo, but insisted that relations can be improved through joint projects, including an EU-funded highway linking the two countries.

Vucic is the first-ever Serbian head of government or state to visit Albania, reciprocating Rama's trip in November -- the first visit by an Albanian head of government to Serbia in 68 years.

Albania is a NATO member while Serbia is still on the waiting list.

Relations between the two Balkan countries remain strained, mainly over the former Serbian province of Kosovo, where majority ethnic Albanians declared independence in 2008, which Serbia refused to recognize.

Serbs consider Kosovo the cradle of their statehood and Christian Orthodox religion.

After talks with Rama and meetings with President Ilir Meta on May 27, Vucic was to address a regional economic forum on May 28.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters