Kosovo's Decline of Offer to Vaccinate Its Teachers in Albania Raises Some Questions …

Editor's note

The plan of the Kosovo government to vaccinate teachers in Kukes, northeastern Albania, cannot be applied at this period as the doses of the vaccines AstraZeneca and Pfizer have been administered for the Albanian citizens. This has been declared by Health Minister Arben Vitia who announced that the teaching staff would be taken to Albania when it has new doses of vaccines (!!!).

Being on the same wavelength Prime Minister Albin Kurti has said that because Kosovo is not recognized by many countries, including Russia and China, they “don’t have the comfort of accepting vaccines from all over, like some countries are doing.”

“Our orientation is European and Euro-Atlantic, (in close relations) with countries that recognize us, that’s why we have our hesitations and skepticism, but also our clear position towards different offers that might reach us from non-recognizer countries or from outside Europe,” Kurti told journalists on Monday.

Health Minister Arben Vitia added that the decision was also based on lack of assurances by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) about the safety of the Russian and Chinese vaccines.

When Kosovo had not a single doses of Covid vaccines the Albanian government

rushed to offer Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines and its medical staff was vaccinated at a time when Albania itself was in short supply of the jabs.

Last week, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti had asked him to have their teachers vaccinated instead of medical staff, who would be vaccinated in Kosovo using the first batch of AstraZeneca supply the country received a few days ago. Rama said he had replied positively, suggesting that Kosovo teachers would go to Albania to get the vaccine, just like a number of doctors and nurses had done before.

It was a sign of fraternal solidarity to Kosovars when no one was caring about it and official  Pristina seemed incapable of breaking this 'isolation' wall. It cannot be failed to say that there have been high estimations of such a gesture when Albanians themselves were in dire need of vaccines and the government was doing the utmost to find alternative sources to overcome the deadlock which was becoming frightening with rising fatalities and overloaded hospitals last February and March 2021.

So far only 24,000 doses of vaccines Astra Zeneca have arrived in Kosovo as part of COVAX program.

The refusal of Pristina to vaccinate its teaching staff with the Chinese vaccine could not pass unnoticed in Albania and the public opinion has the right to ask what about them who are getting the same stuff.

So far it is not known that Kosovo has any obligatory treaty or agreement that it can administer only western vaccines.

On the contrary there are media reports in Pristina that Kosovo well- to- do people are going to Belgrade to be vaccinated with what Serb authorities offer.

On Monday Serbia got 2.5 million of Chinese vaccines as part of its vaccination campaign of the population. Likewise the shops of Kosovo are full of 'Made in Serbia'

goods of all kinds including medical products in its pharmaceutical system.

So it seems that the latest refusal by the leaders of Pristina carries more than the 'loyalty' of them to western vaccines a path followed at first by Albanian authorities who  have become aware now that this is a fight for survival of the people and no flag is injected with the vaccines which protect people's health.

Without wanting to dwell at length on the zig zags of the relationship between the new Kosovo leadership and Tirana's government the question is natural: does this refusal of the hand of solidarity in hard times seem something more than the Western loyalty of Albin Kurti?

In any case Kosovo authorities have God's right to abide by its geopolitical and health safety issues for refusing the offer of Tirana while the latter has its obligation to increase the speed of the vaccination of its citizens in line with the international health standards as the situation continues to be grave. /argumentum.al