TIRANA — “It has been a long time coming, but Albania is ready to rejoin the West. In truth and in spirit, it never left,” Tirana’s Catholic Archbishop Rrok Krol Mirdita said in an interview. Muslims are the majority, but Albania is a country split four ways confessionally — between Sunni Muslims, Sufi Muslim Bektashis, Catholics and Greek Orthodox. There’s two ways tribal split as well, with northern Ghegs and southern Tosks making up most of the country’s roughly 3 million population. But all Albanians now seem to be pulling one way politically after the recent declaration of independence by Kosovo, where the majority of the population is Albanian. A Kosovar delegation visited recently to discuss forming a common market between the two states. Despite Kosovo’s supervised independence precluding unification with Albania, the latter”s Minister for Economy and Energy, Genc Ruli, stated that a free Kosovo “paved the way for a common market […] and coordination of economic policies with Albania.”
PRISTINA — A recent survey discussed in the leftist Der Spiegel pointed out that a Saudi-funded mosque had boosted the appeal of a more traditional Islam in that secularized former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina which the opponents of Kosovo’s independence may look at with a jaundiced eye. For now, however, the denim-and-leather-clad Kosovars see things differently. As employment conditions become difficult in Kosovo, many job-seekers see their future with the EU. Amira Rama, 23, recently got engaged. She said, “We want it to be easier to travel to the West for jobs — now it is too difficult.”
PRISTINA — The birth pangs from the emergence of the world’s newest nation reverberated yesterday from New York to Moscow as Serbia and its ally Russia rejected a unilateral declaration of independence by the self-proclaimed “Republic of Kosova.” But the Serb-Russian gambit did little to dampen the jubilation in the streets of Pristina, where red-and-black-clad celebrants waved U.S. and Kosovar flags, exploded firecrackers and ate from an enormous cake intended to feed 30,000 people. Prime Minister Hashim Thaci issued his proclamation at mid afternoon, using the Albanian-language spelling for the longtime Serbian province. The parliament followed quickly with a unanimous vote of approval as tens of thousands gathered outside. Serbia, however, rejected the loss of a province it considers its historic heartland, and its ally Russia asked for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York.