Albanian Daily News
Tirana to open Kosovo office

Albanian Economic Tribune - Jan 12, 2000

TIRANA - The Albanian government has officially repeated its earlier demand to United Nations officials in Kosovo that it be allowed to open an "information office" in the Kosovar capital, the foreign ministry’s spokesman said.

Sokol Gjoka said that the government is waiting for a response from UN headquarters in New York, and it was optimistic the liaison office would be established.

"The government is insisting that the request be fulfilled, and we’re positive the permission will be granted, according to information we have from Prishtina and New York," Gjoka said. He did not elaborate.

"The UN is working on a framework that will regulate the presence of foreign missions in Kosovo," Gjoka said.

However, several European countries and the US have established diplomatic offices in Kosovo, which is presently under the administration of the United Nations.

The Albanian government came under increasing pressure from its domestic public opinion for its failure to establish an office in the Kosovo capital, and exert its influence over Kosovar Albanian leaders. Gjoka said that "contacts with Prishtina did not lack."

"We have other means of communication with Kosovo," he added, referring to numerous visits of Kosovar leaders in Tirana, and vice-versa.

Gjoka hurried to play down allegations that an Albanian government’s office in Prishtina would pave the way to the unification of Kosovo with Albania proper. "The Albanian government, has no tendency, and it wishes to eliminate any doubt that the opening of the diplomatic office there creates the premises for the Greater Albania," Gjoka said. "It’s the other way around," he added. "The government, with its presence and its experts, wants to contribute towards the restoration of peace, the establishment of democratic institutions and the integration of Kosovo, and the whole region, into the European family."

Gjoka refused to name the government’s representatives in Prishtina, but he said "we have them ready to head to Kosovo."

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