Albania-Serbia: premiers' talks postponed till November

After incident at match, Vucic and Rama vie to continue dialogue

20 October, 11:35

    Albania's premier Edi Rama Albania's premier Edi Rama

    (ANSAmed) - BELGRADE - A consequence of serious incidents reported during the soccer match between Serbia and Albania and the political crisis they generated in relations between Belgrade and Tirana led to the cancelation of an historic meeting scheduled on October 22 between government leaders from the two countries - the first in 68 years.

    The meeting between Serbia's Aleksandar Vucic and Albania's Edi Rama, however, was not cancelled but postponed until November 10. The decision was taken Sunday by the premiers in a phone conversation during which, while confirming ongoing divergences over responsibilities in incidents reported last Tuesday at Belgrade's stadium, the two leaders agreed that talks were necessary.

    ''We cannot miss the opportunity of a meeting, of talking to work for the maintenance of regional stability'', said a statement released last night by the Serbian government.

    Vucic and Rama stressed the need to continue dialogue and the process of normalization started with the Conference on the western Balkans held in Berlin on August 28, a dialogue enabling to improve relations between Serbia and Albania, the situation in the Balkans and Europe.

    Divided by longstanding hostilities, the two countries drew further apart after the proclamation of Kosovo's independence on February 17, 2008. Belgrade continues to consider the Albanian-majority southern province part of its territory.

    When, with little foresight, UEFA included both countries in Group I to qualify for the 2016 European soccer championship, some expressed fear this might lead to unpleasant incidents.

    Indeed the first match between the two national teams led to violence, with a drone carrying a ''Great Albania'' flag flying over Partizan stadium while the match was ongoing.

    UEFA opened disciplinary action over incidents on the field and in the stadium, with a decision to be announced on October 23.

    And while Belgrade and Tirana are blaming one another for the incidents, ethnic violence has been reported in Serbia over the past few days, mainly against mainly bakeries and cafes owned by Ethnic Albanian Serbs.

    Belgrade authorities have condemned the violence, which has sparked concern.

    The two premiers will have to allay fears and avoid a further deterioration of relations between the two countries at the November 10 meeting as tensions are endangering stability and the reconciliation process in the tormented region of the Balkans.(ANSAmed).

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