Before Italy’s Head of State Sergio Mattarella visited Belgrade on Monday, Italian media release an interview with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic on Sunday.
Mentioning the Kumanovo clash in Macedonia, President Nikolic said that the idea of “the Greater Albania,” is a threat for the whole Balkan region.
Nikolic said that the international community should recognise incidents like those that occurred in Kumanovo as terrorist acts.
“The terrorist attacks and the provocations of the Albanian delegation in Belgrade, are a signal that the entire region is in danger. The idea of Greater Albania should be a concern for all countries with a considerable Albanian population,” he added.
President Nikolic said that there have been attempts to “remove lands from Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Montenegro,” for a Greater Albania through “terrorist methods.”
Beginning in May, the armed conflict in the city of Kumanovo in Macedonia near the Serbian and Kosovan border started when police carried out a raid against an armed group which was suspected of planning attacks on civilians and government targets.
Eight police officers and 14 militants were killed in the operation, while 37 police officers were injured. Streets and houses in Kumanovo were destroyed as a result of the armed conflict.
Following investigations, Macedonian police arrested nearly 30 suspects. Eighteen of the detainees were Kosovo nationals, 11 of them were Macedonians who lived in Kosovo, and one was an ethnic Albanian who lived in Germany.
Macedonian officials believed that those arrested were members of the dismantled Kosovo Liberation Army which has worked for the establishment of a “Greater Albania.”
Nikolic mentioned Serbia-Kosovo relations saying Serbia must continue its dialogue with Kosovo in order to become a member of the EU.
He said he feels that the Kosovo Albanians are not eager to sign a mutual agreement under the mediation of Brussel and that they have tried to block or slow down Serbia’s accession process.
He said that “Serbia is a sovereign country that cannot forget its history, culture or current economic interests. Serbia is determined towards the EU integration, and for this we have implemented the agreements with Prishtina.”
“We expect EU officials to invest additional efforts in order that Kosovo Albanians should fulfill what they have signed and in order that people in Kosovo lead a normal life.”
Previously, Serbian representatives withdrew from the Kosovan parliament following a series of incidents, including Serb Kosovo Minister Aleksandar Jablanovic being sacked, some companies in Kosovo being slated for privatisation and claims that a coalition agreement is not being fulfilled.
However, two months later the Serbian representatives then returned to the Kosovo Parliament, ending the boycott after being assured that the coalition agreement will be respected.
The coalition agreement - which includes amendments to post-war privatisations, consideration of the formation of a semi-autonomous Association of Serbian Municipalities, and the return of Kosovo Serb refugees - was signed in December 2014.
President Nikolic said that “relations between Italy and Serbia have always been good and continue to be excellent, although we can further strengthen our ties, to our mutual benefit," Nikolic said, underlining that Italy is perceived in Serbia '"as being something so close to us, and dear."
The two countries signed the Treaty of Strategic Partnership in 2009. Nikolic said that “our country offers many advantages in the field of exports to third countries, due to the free trade agreements signed with Russia, Belarus, Turkey and other countries and regional organisations.”
Nikolic also thanked Italy for its support for the Serbian chairmanship of the OSCE.