Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama says he supports Kosovo’s decision to hike import taxes on Serbian and Bosnian goods, calling it a justified political reaction to Serbia’s hostile acts.

Die Morina, Taulant Osmani BIRN, Pristina 26.11.2018.

At the fifth joint meeting of the governments of Albania and Kosovo in Peja, in Kosovo, the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama backed the decision of the Kosovo government to raise the tax on imports from Serbia and Bosnia from 10 to 100 per cent.

Kosovo imposed the increase in taxes on Serbian and Bosnian imports on November 21. The EU has called on Kosovo to withdraw the decision, saying it contradicts the terms of Kosovo’s membership of the CEFT regional free trade deal.

Rama said the new tax was politically justified. “The tariff is not an economical act, but it is a silent political reaction and an invitation for Serbia to stand with its feet on the ground, because the path to the future cannot be built with a knife in the back of Albanians,” Rama stated on Monday in Kosovo town of Peja/Pec.

“It [the tax rise] is an irrational condition in normal circumstances, but it is normal in an irrational situation. Whoever thinks the tariff is economical is wrong, it is political, because of the approach of Serbia,” he added.

According to Rama, Albania wants to cooperate with Serbia, but “Serbia cannot have one face with Albania and another with Kosovo”.

“They [Serbs] cannot bring in goods with the description ‘Kosovo i Metohija’; they can keep ‘Metohija’ for themselves,” Rama stated, referring to the Serbian formula for the former province which declared independence in 2008.

Among other agreements signed between the Kosovo and Albanian governments is one on scrapping roaming charges for mobile communications networks and a protocol for joint customs at the Morine-Vermica border crossing point.

Rama said the police and customs from two countries would operate together in one joint point. “Kosovo and Albania will walk together, side by side, like the double-headed eagle,” Rama stated, referring to the Albanian national symbol.

Kosovo’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development, Nenad Rikalo, who comes from the main Kosovo Serbian party, the Belgrade-backed Lista Srpska, warned that Kosovo Serbs will continue to oppose the hike in import taxes.

Withdrawal of the decision, Rikalo said, would send a message that life can continue peacefully in Kosovo.