Serb president Aleksandar Vucic visited Tirana late Friday in an effort to continue talks about a possible “Balkan Schengen,” essentially an attempt at regional cooperation between Albania, Serbia, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
However, the visit was met with protests by Lëvizja Vetëvendosje (Self-determination Movement), citing as their main reason president Vucic’s refusal to acknowledge Serbia’s genocide against Kosova Albanians in the late 1990s, particularly the brutal Racak massacre, where 45 Kosovo Albanians were killed by Serb forces in the village of Racak in central Kosovo in January 1999.
Vetëvendosje has also requested that Vucic be declared persona non grata in Albania until he recognizes Serbia’s ethnic crimes against Albanians.
Holding up images depicting the brutality of that massacre, one of the protesters was heard saying “Mini Schengen” will only serve to create a greater Serbia,” while the crowd chanted in unison, “Vucic, Vucic, out of Albania!”
During clashes with the police, another protester was heard berating the Albanian police for serving the government, “A government that seeks to rehabilitate the image of criminals and allows them in our midst.”
The initiative to create more regional cooperation between nations of the Western Balkans was launched back in October, in meetings between regional heads of state held respectively in Serbia and Northern Macedonia. It seeks to eliminate barriers in travel and goods and foster better relations. The idea was launched on the heels of the European Union’s refusal to initiate accession talks with Albania in October 2019.