Weeks of tensions, after Skopje introduced a restrictive visa policy towards Albanian citizens. But a meeting between the Albanian Prime Minister Berisha and his Macedonian counterpart Gruevski finally solved the situation
The. Has been definitively resolved diplomatic crisis between Macedonia and Albania, which involved the two Balkan neighbors after the entry into force, on January 1st 2008, of a law that obliged the entry of Albanian citizens into Macedonian territory only with an entry visa issued at the Tirana consulate. The story has generated enormous resentment in the Albanian media, which has been targeting the neighboring republic for two months, with indignant editorials and comments, in which the most lucid analysts have spoken up to showmen unaccustomed to dealing with politics. Someone even started calling their eastern neighbor "Fyrom", a name that in Albania had never been mentioned, and never used as an alternative to Macedonia. After the formation of a mixed commission between the two countries, aimed at resolving the crisis, Albanian Prime Minister Salì Berisha had invited his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski to go to Tirana for a meeting that would definitively resolve the issue. On Gruevski's visit in the Albanian press, he speculated enormously for weeks, announcing and denying it and commenting on the hesitant behavior of the Macedonian prime minister. But there was a visit as it was announced in January. On February 19 the two prime ministers met in Tirana, with an agenda that focused on resolving the diplomatic crisis between the two countries but also a series of issues of common interest. "In March 2006, the previous government - commented Gruevski - approved the law on foreigners that came into force on January 1 2008. This law provided for the obligation to obtain a visa only at the Macedonian consulates. For this reason we have reached this situation that we will resolve today ”. While his Albanian counterpart dwarfed the gravity of the situation by assuring his host of excellent relations between the two states, blaming the too much smoke thrown on the issue, the Albanian media "whose pages - commented Berisha - are the last bastion of the stunted flags of the old nationalisms. But we will leave them to their nationalistic buzz and we will sign our agreement today. " The agreement signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries, the Albanian Lulzim Basha and the Macedonian Antonio Milososki, has in fact solved the diplomatic crisis and also marked progress in relations between the two states. In addition to revoking the law that came into force on January 1, the need for Albanian citizens to obtain a Macedonian visa, as previous agreements wanted, has been completely abolished. Consequently, based on the most recent agreement, Albanian citizens will no longer need any visa to travel to Macedonian territory, nor will they need to pay any kind of tax, but only present their passport. Mutually Albanian and Macedonian citizens will have the right to stay freely for 90 days within a range of 6 months. In addition, special benefits have been introduced for residents in areas within 20 radius from the border line, whose inhabitants have strong ties between them. The latter can go to the neighboring state with an identity card, and if necessary they can also cross the border freely even in places other than the border points. The two prime ministers also agreed on the need to open another border point between the two states, Xhepisht - Trebishte, which would help to intensify and facilitate the movement of goods and people. In this way, tourism and economic relations between the two states will not suffer the dreaded damage that has been widely talked about in both countries, but could improve. We only have to wait for the ratification of the agreement by the respective parliaments that will take place in the coming weeks. "So we can still go for a lunch or coffee on the other side of Lake Ohrid without making too many problems", commented the Albanian press without much emphasis. Gruevski's visit to Tirana was not only aimed at resolving the diplomatic crisis between the two countries but also at further improving collaboration in several areas. "Our two countries - said Gruevski - have a multitude of common interests on which we must work together". There has been a lot of talk, though not in concrete terms, of the much discussed 8 Corridor that would pass through the two countries. Berisha and Gruevski have vaguely committed themselves so that everyone can do their best. In the same terms, it was also considered the need to attract investments to build the Trans-Adriatic pipeline and the AMBO pipeline that would equally interest both Balkan neighbors. But new collaborations have also been proposed such as the construction of an electricity network between Tirana and Skopje, and the improvement of the infrastructure between the two countries. For the first time Berisha has heard about the need to build a railway communication between Tirana and Skopje. In the agenda, finally, the cultural aspect was not lacking, crucial in the relations between neighbors, but always neglected in the history of the two countries. Berisha promised Gruevski the opening of the chair of Macedonian language at the State University of Tirana, which in particular in recent years has had very little Balkan and Slavic teaching skills. The two premieres in their press conference mentioned the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of both of them as common interests. "We hope to celebrate together in April," said Gruevski, speaking of the Bucharest summit, which will be crucial for the two countries to join NATO. Berisha reaffirmed Albania's support policy of Macedonian progress and above all of its recognition with the Macedonia denomination while Gruevski expressed his fear of a possible veto by Greece which would be disastrous not only for Macedonia but for all Balkans. On the other hand, the Macedonian Prime Minister said about Kosovo that he will act in conjunction with friends from the EU and NATO because that is the path the country intends to take. Considering the agreement and common projects expressed by Berisha and Gruevski, the visit to the Macedonian prime minister in Tirana, after the brief crisis of the last few months, promises a significant improvement in relations between the two countries.
Source: Observatory on the Balkans