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Albania slams hardliner's call for Serbian border blockade

12 January 2012, 22:14 CET
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(TIRANA) - Albania on Thursday slammed calls from a Kosovo hardline opposition leader to temporarily block the border with Serbia as a way of barring Serb products from entering the breakaway territory.

Albania's foreign ministry said in a statement that the attempt to block the border was contrary to constructive efforts to make Kosovo a democratic state and multi-ethnic society.

"The use of nationalist and pseudo-patriotic rhetoric" will not help key goals of the Albanians in both Kosovo and Albania to progress towards integration into the European Union, or new recognitions of Kosovo's independence, the ministry warned.

Albin Kurti, a member of Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanian community, called Wednesday on all Albanians to join Saturday's action, which will be organised by his nationalist Self-determination movement at two border posts with Serbia.

Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci has condemned the call and said his government would do its best to prevent it.

In Pristina, top international official Pieter Feith also condemned the planned blockade, saying it was not a "responsible behaviour" and warning the move would neither promote Kosovo's standing internationally, nor help efforts to normalise relations with Serbia.

"If the action ... goes ahead it will damage Kosovo's international reputation while demonstrating a lack of respect for one of the core values of Europe, which is freedom of movement of people and goods," Feith said in a statement.

Belgrade and Pristina have been at loggerheads over bilateral trade ever since Kosovo unilaterally proclaimed independence from Serbia in 2008.

However in September, after months of EU-mediated negotiations, the two sides agreed to implement a free trade agreement.

Kurti, a die-hard opponent of any negotiations with Serbia, has called for a unification of Kosovo and Albania.

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