Albania's Rama says political temperature rising in Balkans - paper | Reuters

ZURICH The 'political temperature' in the Balkans has risen significantly, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama told a Swiss newspaper, citing tensions in Macedonia over the country's ethnic Albanian minority.Balkan states Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Montenegro all hope to join the European Union, but political feuds, ethnic strife and lingering misgivings over the wars of the 1990s complicate this process. [nL5N1GY69H]Rama, the Socialist Party leader whose role in helping organise ethnic Albanians in Macedonia has been criticised by some there as inappropriate foreign meddling, told the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper in the interview published on Thursday that things could get worse

Reuters March 30, 2017 22:45:04 IST
Albania's Rama says political temperature rising in Balkans - paper
| Reuters

Albanias Rama says political temperature rising in Balkans  paper
 Reuters

ZURICH The "political temperature" in the Balkans has risen significantly, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama told a Swiss newspaper, citing tensions in Macedonia over the country's ethnic Albanian minority.Balkan states Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Montenegro all hope to join the European Union, but political feuds, ethnic strife and lingering misgivings over the wars of the 1990s complicate this process. [nL5N1GY69H]Rama, the Socialist Party leader whose role in helping organise ethnic Albanians in Macedonia has been criticised by some there as inappropriate foreign meddling, told the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper in the interview published on Thursday that things could get worse. "In Macedonia, the situation could spiral completely out of control because the head of the country's second-biggest political party has denied the Albanians' mandate to help build the government," he said. "We are demanding only that the government in Skopje respect the rights of the Albanian minority."

Rama, a former Tirana mayor, accuses Skopje of blocking Albanian as an official language even though ethnic Albanians comprise a quarter of Macedonia's 2 million population."It is inconceivable for us that Macedonians reject Albanian as an official language at national level," Rama said. He said other factors contributing to heightened emotions include what he called Serbia's provocations against Kosovo, including sending a train emblazoned in Serbian colors and the phrase "Kosovo is Serbia" to its former province. [nL5N1F40GU]

Ethnic Albanian-majority Kosovo, in turn, is seeking to turn its security force into a national army, a plan opposed by the Serb minority and widely panned by NATO and the United States. [nL5N1GL3OV]European Union leaders said earlier this month that Balkan states could still join the EU but must stick to a path of economic and democratic reform to reach that goal. [nL5N1GM7D3]

Likewise, the prospect of EU membership has for years been the main driver of reform in the Balkans following decades of communist role, economic hardship as well as ethnic bloodshed associated with Yugoslavia's 1990s disintegration."When you consider this inheritance, the only way for Balkan countries to develop into mature democracies is to do so within the European Union," Rama told the Swiss newspaper. "As long as the people and political elite of the Balkans do not lose faith in EU membership, they'll stay calm. The borders will be in danger when the European Union sits on its hands and, in doing so, abandons us to the Russians."Russia, a traditional ally of the Serbs, denies accusations of political manipulation in the Balkans to reassert its influence in the historically volatile region. (Reporting by John Miller; editing by Mark Heinrich)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.