Foreign Minister expresses Albania’s stance on the Belgrade incident

Foreign Minister expresses Albania’s stance on the Belgrade incident

IBNA Special Report

Tirana, October 15, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

Albania’s Foreign Minister, Ditmir Bushati delivered an extraordinary press conference today in order to talk about the incident registered in the Belgrade stadium. On the background, Bushati had placed the Albanian flag and NATO flag, which was burned last night by fans in the Belgrade stadium.

Bushati made a chronology of what he considered to be consecutive events, starting from the denouncement for the blocking at the “Nikola Tesla” airport in Belgrade, of 45 Albanian nationals, mainly journalists, entrepreneurs, public people and people invited by the Albanian Football Federation.

“I have demanded direct communication with my counterpart, Ivica Dacic, in order to unblock this situation, a communication which was not made possible because the Serb side was not available”, said Bushati.

At the same time, Foreign Ministry of Albania summoned the ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to Tirana, Miroljub Zaric, in order to express the concern that exists “about the situation caused in the Belgrade Airport”.

“The ambassador was told that we would not tolerate for any Albanian citizen to be threatened in Belgrade”, said Bushati.

Foreign Ministry demanded to Serb authorities “to show maturity and self control and not to use a football match for political purposes, convinced that football is played in the green field and not in airport gates and corridors of diplomatic chancelleries”.

Bushati denounced that since the start of the match, Serbs, according to him, desecrated the Albanian anthem and Albanian symbols. “At 8:45 pm, at the start of the match between Serbia and Albania, in the presence of the highest Serb authorities, fans in the stadium desecrated the national anthem and our symbols. Crowds of thousands of Serb fans estarted to throw chants of hatred and threats, such as “Kill Albanians”. Not only this, but Serb fans who were below the VIP tribune, and where the highest Serb and Albanian authorities were placed, repeated the same degrading chants and insulting gestures toward Albanian guests”.

Foreign Ministry declared that “unfortunately, tension among fans exceeded the dimensions of a football match”, adding that: “After systematically throwing strong objects on the field, a banderol with national images was pulled by Serb players, something which caused the reaction of Albanian players. The situation degraded with the violent intervention of Serb hooligans on the field and  the violence manifested toward our players. Also, members of security personnel of the stadium, which had to guarantee security, were also involved in physical violence against the players of the Albanian national team”.

Bushat said that all of these “are not claims, but proven facts, which are based on photographs and film footage of the match, most of which has spread all around the world”.

Meanwhile, after the UEFA’s decision to suspend the match, Bushati said that the boys of the national team, the technical staff, journalists and Albanian Football Federation guests, found themselves “in a situation of unprecedented psychological terror”.

“In spite of the provocation and the tense situation, the national team and Albanian nationals who were present, showed dignified self control which must be praised”, said Bushati.

Bushati also denounced what he called psychological pressure: “Unfortunately, the efforts of the Albanian embassy to communicate with the Serb authorities, didn’t find the understanding of the other side. The personnel of our embassy to Belgrade even became subject to an unprecedented psychological pressure”.

The Foreign Ministry also pointed out the fact that the Albanian national team remained blocked for three hours after the match and then it was sent to the airport.

“In the Belgrade airport, the national team and Albanian citizens who were present, were blocked once again for an hour, on the pretext of further inspections”.

After this expose, Mr. Bushati outlined the demands addressed to Belgrade:

“We urge Serb authorities, which had full responsibility for maintain order in this activity, to denounce without any equivoque and to hold accountable all those who are responsible for the incidents that were caused, before, during and after the match. Instead of misinforming and spreading propaganda which aims at involving high Albanian authorities in this event, they must fully investigate the events, prove the claims and identify the responsibilities”.

Albanian Foreign Ministry also addresses a request for UEFA: “UEFA authorities must take all necessary steps for an inquiry and produce an unbiased report by testifying that football is the arena of friendship and civilization”.

At the end came a request for Albanians: “We call on all Albanians who are in Tirana, in Pristina, Skopje, Tuz and Mitrovica to keep their calm, show how civil they are and demonstrate their culture and nobility that characterized our national team during yesterday’s challenge”.

Will Rama’s visit be cancelled?

Foreign Minister Bushati is part of the delegation of the Albanian government in next week’s scheduled visit to Serbia, presided by PM Rama. Bushati’s appearance today with such strong notes is seen as a warning for the cancellation of the visit, which until today, has been postponed several times.

Experts of political affairs in Tirana believe that it’s impossible to hold a normal visit, especially after the accusation that the Serb prime minister addressed today that an official Albanian gang perpetrated acts of provocation in Belgrade.

But, the cancellation of the visit can cause serious problems for the future of the integration of Albania and Kosovo to the EU. Brussels has insisted on the talks between Pristina and Belgrade and has recently kept quiet after many rounds of reconciliation. It would now be very hard to launch new rounds of reconciliation between Belgrade and Tirana. /ibna/