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10:34, 18 June 2018 Monday
Update: 02:04, 20 February 2018 Tuesday

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EU hits out at Albanian PM's Kosovo comments
EU hits out at Albanian PM's Kosovo comments

A spokeswoman told Tirana to focus on its own reforms as it seeks to join the EU, saying comments that could be seen as meddling in other countries were "not helpful".

World Bulletin / News Desk

The European Union on Monday warned Albania against "interference" in neighbouring countries, after Prime Minister Edi Rama said his country and Kosovo could one day have a single president as a "symbol of national unity".

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia 10 years ago but Belgrade does not recognise it and has repeatedly accused Tirana of wanting to build a "Greater Albania", an aspiration it denies.

In a comment likely to anger Belgrade, Rama noted during a speech to the Kosovo parliament on Sunday that the two neighbours, both predominantly ethnic Albanian, already share diplomatic missions around the world and added: "Why not a single president, as a symbol of national unity?"

European Commission spokeswoman Catherine Ray said the bloc supported "reconciliation and regional cooperation" in the Western Balkans, torn apart by conflict when Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990s and where six states are now working towards EU membership.

"Statements which might be interpreted as political interference in neighbouring countries are not helpful in building good neighbourly relations," Ray told reporters in Brussels.

"The EU expects in all the regions to build constructive and cooperative relations and to focus and intensify the work on their own respective reform programs to move forward on the EU integration path."

All but five EU members -- Spain, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Cyprus -- have recognised Kosovo, which this weekend marked the 10th anniversary of its declaration of independence from Serbia.

Earlier this month the EU unveiled a new plan to give membership to some Balkan countries by 2025 but warned border disputes must be settled before they could join.



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