Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia pledge to open borders

National / World

In this photo provided by the Serbian Presidential Press Service, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, center, speaks with Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama, left, and North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev during the meeting in Novi Sad, Serbia, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. Prime Ministers of North Macedonia and Albania are visiting Serbia to discuss removing trade barriers. (Serbian Presidential Press Service via AP)

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — The leaders of Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania have pledged to lift barriers to free trade and travel between the three Balkan countries as they all seek entry into the European Union.

Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic, North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Albania Prime Minister Edi Rama on Thursday also invited other nations in the troubled region to join the initiative.

Balkans remains tense following the 1990s’ war despite efforts at reconciliation and EU membership. North Macedonia and Albania both have recognized the independence of Serbia’s former province of Kosovo which Belgrade rejects.

Officials say the idea — dubbed ‘little Schengen’ after EU’s border-free zone — will help boost economic recovery and foreign investment through open borders as EU enlargement process has stalled over Brexit and other issues.

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