Ramush Haradinaj: Balkans Mini-Schengen increases the Russian and Chinese influence

 Ramush Haradinaj
 Kosovo's outgoing prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, said it is not in Kosovo's interest to include "mini-Schengen" among the Western Balkan countries, considering these plans an extension of Russian and Chinese influence in the Balkans.

He said that the Mini-Schengen is not in the interest of visa liberalization and European integration processes either, but according to him, it is a process that has only one interest; the expansion of Russian-Chinese influence in the Balkans, with Belgrade as its epicenter.

The creation of the "mini-Schengen" among the Balkan countries is an initiative of the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama and that of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev.

The three leaders have already held two joint meetings, one in Novi Sad and the other in Ohrid. While Kosovo's president, Hashim Thaci, had opposed attending the Ohrid meeting.

"Kosovo is committed to good neighborliness and removing obstacles to the freedom of people and goods, but, Kosovo cannot be part of such a Summit in which states that do not yet recognize the reality of independent Kosovo.” wrote President Thaçi on the social network Facebook.

The essence of this initiative lies in the creation of a single market and a single investment destination.

"The mini-Schengen that Vucic, Edi Rama and Zaev are proposing to us is just the expanding of Russian and Chinese influence in the Balkans, it is not in Kosovo's or Europe's interest. Russia and China are installed in all respects in Belgrade, are in security, economy, and politics. When we make the same rules automatically this influence installed in Belgrade becomes ours as well,” said the outgoing Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj at a press conference in Pristina.

But the United States has welcomed the Western Balkans' initiative to create a "mini-Schengen" as a way to launch the free movement of people and goods.

"We believe that in order for this initiative to be successful, must be involved the entire region, together with Kosovo," the US Embassy in Germany said in a statement.

Among other things, the letter also mentions that the US President Donald Trump's administration is focused on helping the entire region to create economic opportunities and jobs for young people.

The next meeting of Western Balkan leaders will be held in Durres on December 21, while Kosovo is expected to be invited.
Ramush Haradinaj: Balkans Mini-Schengen increases the Russian and Chinese influence Ramush Haradinaj: Balkans Mini-Schengen increases the Russian and Chinese influence Wednesday, November 20, 2019 Rating: 5
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