February 18, 2008 / 5:37 PM / 11 years ago

Albania recognizes independent Kosovo

TIRANA (Reuters) - Albania recognized Kosovo’s independence on Monday soon after the United States and major European powers, saying it would help the new state’s economy by providing it access to its Adriatic ports.

“I will call for the establishment of relations with Kosovo at ambassadorial level,” Prime Minister Sali Berisha said on national television, a day after the neighboring Albanian-majority province declared independence from Serbia.

Albania opened its borders in 1999 to receive tens of thousands of people fleeing a Serb crackdown on separatist ethnic Albanian guerrillas in Kosovo.

Since then trade and personal contacts between ethnic kin on both sides of the border have flourished, and a multi-million dollar highway is planned to link the two states.

Reporting by Benet Koleka, edited by Richard Meares

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