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GOOD RELATIONS BETWEEN SERBIA AND ALBANIA ARE IMPORTANT FOR EUROPEAN INTEGRATION OF THE WESTERN BALKANS

02.12.2015

Forum for International Relations of the European Movement in Serbia and Friedrich Ebert Foundation organized on November 30, 2015. a presentation of the results of public opinion polls in Serbia and Albania on Serbian-Albanian relations.


During her welcome speech Jelica Minić, president of the Forum for International Relations of the European Movement in Serbia, called attention that the trajectory of building good-neighborly relations is not complicated, but certainly will not be easy. Also, the director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Heinz Albert Hutmacher pointed out that the Serbian-Albanian relations are essential for the stability of the European union, as well as for stability and economic prosperity of the region, and as an example which should be followed are today's relations between France and Germany.


Albert Rakipi, Executive Director of the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) added to the particular matter that the first step has been already made, because the beginning is always the hardest thing.


The first panel presented the results of a national pool of the perception of Serbian citizens of Albania and Albanians, and the Albanian perception of Serbia and the Serbs. Srđan Bogosavljević, member of the Main Board of the Ipsos Strategic Marketing, said that the Serbian - Albanian relations can be described in one sentence: "If we knew each other more, and what's going on in that other State, relations would be excellent." He explained that there is a lack of information on both sides, as well as a great lack of contacts at the level of citizens, but it is encouraging that research shows that there is a will for change. Thus, due to the poor exchange of information, the majority of citizens of Serbia as the biggest threat to the national security see Albania.


Albert Rakipi presented the results of the public pool results in Albania, which has shown that citizens of Albania have more optimist view of relations between Serbia and Albania. He stated, for the majority of participants interesting information, that citizens of Albania as a major threat to national security do not see Serbia, but Greece.


Serbia and Albania's European future was the topic of the second panel, where the views was presented by Nataša Vučković, Member of the Parliament,  National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and Third Vice-President of the Committee for the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights, H.E. Ilir Boçka, Ambassador of the Republic of Albania to Serbia, H.E. Christine Moro, Ambassador of the Republic of France to Serbia, Alexander Jung, Deputy Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Serbia and Frank Hantke, Director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Tirana. 


Vučković indicated some common experiences of Serbia and Albania, which burden the relations between the two countries, including the crucial long isolation and economic poverty that led to the appearance of the romantic nationalism in both countries when the majority of European countries have completed the process of building the national state. H.E. Boçka was particularly emphasized the importance of education and the youth exchange program, as well as infrastructural connectivity, as would be, for example, highway Niš-Priština-Drač.


Speaking about the case of the development French-German relations after World War II, H.E. Christine Moro, specified the great importance of strong commitment of the governments of the further progress of relations. The importance of cooperation at all levels, both on bilateral, and regional and EU level in his speech designated Alexander Jung.

 

Frank Hantke concluded that common economic interests should be the guiding star of both states, and that Albania can be a good mediator in resolving the Kosovo issue, because it is not directly involved in the conflict. 


Through speeches, during the discussion too, the panelists agreed that the main stumbling block is ignorance and lack of knowledge of others, that cooperation is in the interests of both countries, as well as to the young target group, because young people are agents of change in society.


The survey of public opinion about the mutual perceptions of Serbian and Albanian citizens was conducted in Serbia and Albania during the previous three months. Research in Serbia has led European Movement in Serbia, in partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, while in Albania was organized by the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS). The project aims is to establish bilateral mechanisms that will contribute to the normalization of relations and cooperation between Serbia and Albania. Based on the results of research in both countries will be defined and recommendations addressed to the general public. 


More about project you can read here.


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