European Western Balkans

Rama: Co-operation is key for the region, the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo should not be an obstacle

Edi Rama; Photo: Prime Minister's Office

TIRANA – Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said in an interview for N1 that regional co-operation is key to the Western Balkans and that the formation of the so-called “mini-Schengen” is a good way to co-operate until the Western Balkan countries join the European Union. 

He admits that there is a big dispute between Kosovo and Serbia, but that it should not be an obstacle for economic co-operation.

“There has been a lot of bad life in the Balkans because of disagreements that last in a very awkward way. To live together, to enjoy living together and progress together, we do not have to agree on everything, we just have to find a way to work together and to treat our disagreements well,” said Rama adding that in that way we can try to resolve them.

Rama emphasized that regional co-operation is the key, adding that he does not see a reason why people should not move freely across the region until the countries become an EU member state.

“Why should we not have the freedom of movement of people, goods, capital and services? These are the four freedoms of the European Union itself! In fact, the introduction of these four freedoms was badly named by somebody as ‘mini-Schengen’. I hate that name because I am too tall to accept ‘mini’ things,” Rama said in an interview for N1 Zagreb.

When ti comes to ‘mini-Schengen’ he says that it is used as a reference point and regers to the four freedoms of the EU in the Western Balkans, adding that a big dispute between Serbia and Kosovo should not be an obstacle for co-operation.

“The more we co-operate and talk, the more people get to know each other in everyday life, business, in terms of human and cultural exchange, and in many other fields, which will make it easier for us to understand each other and solve problems. Otherwise, if we wait to solve everything before we start co-operating, we will never be able to co-operate or solve all our problems,” Rama pointed out.

It is stated that the Conference on the Future is ahead og Europe, during which we should see how Europe will transform. Asked by N1 whether he thinks that there are ideas for the future of Europe in the Western Balkans and whether the countries of the region should be included in that discussion in some format, Rama said that he thinks that “the best ideas for the future of Europe are in the Balkans”.

“There is no doubt about that. They are sincere and without acquired interests. There is only one idea in the Balkans, and that is – to become part of that family and give it everything. Within the family, the story is different. Maybe when we get there we won’t have so many good ideas about what the EU should look like. The best ideas for the future of Europe are in the Balkans, but they are not feasible,” Rama concluded.

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