The mini-Schengen area of the Western Balkans cannot be achieved without the participation of Kosovo.
This is what was implicitly leaked from the response of the United States, which supported the initiative but at the same time requested the countries involved to include Kosovo as well. Thought line shared also by political analysts of Tirana e Prishtina, which - for Radio Free Europe - stated that the mini Schengen area must involve all the countries of the Western Balkans.
No negative consequences
The director of the institute for political studies in Tirana, Afrim Krasniqi, argues that the initiative of the mini Schengen area was not properly prepared.
"In the case of Kosovo, a double mistake was made. Kosovo has not only not been part of the preliminary process of the initiative but has also been criticized in official public statements undermining Kosovo's relationship with the initiative to a certain extent.
However, if this process is extended to all the countries of the region and if it considers all that will happen in the dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia for the recognition of Kosovo in the Balkans, then it will not have negative consequences. On the contrary, in the future it could prove to be a positive initiative."- stated Krasniqi for RFE.
The idea of the Schegen mini-area, in his opinion, is supported by Western countries, above all because it speaks of the Balkan region, considered very problematic. On Sunday 10 November, the prime ministers of Albania, Northern Macedonia and Serbia met in Ohrid where they approved a declaration aimed at improving regional cooperation.
An opportunity for improvement
Da Prishtinainstead, political analyst Artan Muhaxhiri stated for RFE that no Western Balkan initiative was launched before consulting the most influential countries like the United States, Germany and other EU countries. The same applies to the mini-Schengen area of the Western Balkans:
"The harsh reaction of the political representatives of Kosovo is incomprehensible, and after the reactions of the United States and the European Union, they can begin to think about accepting this idea because it is not harmful to Kosovo.
If Kosovo is presented as a sovereign and independent state there will be no damage, on the contrary there will be the opportunity to improve different aspects."- said Muhaxhiri for RFE.
The position of Kosovo
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, during the Ohrid summit, called Kosovo a "self-exclusion" from the initiative. On the other hand, Kosovo's response came through the words of President Thaçi, who reiterated that he had to refuse participation in this and all other regional initiatives until Bosnia and Serbia recognized Kosovo's independence:
"The only vision for Kosovo remains membership in the European Union and NATO. Therefore, we do not want to replace our Euro-Atlantic perspective with any regional initiative. The latter makes no sense if Bosnia and Kosovo do not recognize the independence of Kosovo.
Kosovo, while engaging in good neighborly relations and removing obstacles to the free movement of people and goods, cannot take part in a summit in which states that do not recognize the reality of independent Kosovo also take part.”- the Kosovan head of state had written in a post on Facebook.
Albin Kurti is opposed to the mini Schengen area
The next prime minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, said that the Ohrid summit for the mini Schengen area had to be postponed to wait for the formation of the new Kosovar government underlining how the initiative should focus on the principles of political and economic reciprocity.
The leader of Vetëvendosje also called on Tirana officials to remove the "barriers" between Albania and Kosovo before "diving" into the mini-Schengen area initiative.
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