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Albania, Macedonia ties on the brink of crisis
TIRANA, Jan. 16 – Albania and Macedonia were on the brink of a serious crisis this week due to Skopje’s decision to issue visas to Albanians only at its embassy in Tirana. While Skopje was saying the visa issue would be ultimately decided at the premiers’ meeting next month, Tirana was silent until Wednesday, in a sign of pressure. Then, Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s spokeswoman came out to say that Macedonian Premier Nicola Gruevski was officially invited and welcome to Tirana and the date would be set in diplomatic talks, probably in the next four months.

Both countries are hoping to receive NATO membership at its April summit in Bucharest. Official Tirana was late to react to the Skopje decision on the visa. It was first the local media and the political parties in both countries (ethnic Albanians in Macedonia) that produced an outcry, saying it was unfair for Skopje to require such a measure exclusively to Albanians, adding past good relations had helped to keep a stable security and economic situation in the Balkan region.

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