New checkpoints to boost co-operation between Albania, Macedonia

Officials in Macedonia and Albania said the opening of new border crossing points will increase co-operation among bordering towns and contribute to economic development in both countries.

Vasil Sterjovski, general secretary of the Macedonian Alliance for European Integration, said more border crossings and better infrastructure will allow easier connection between Macedonia and Albania and open new perspectives for the citizens in border regions.

"This creates a permanent and better co-operation, as well as new opportunities for conducting joint businesses and job openings," Sterjovski told SETimes. "For the citizens of Albania's Golo Brdo region, where the new crossing point was opened, the city of Debar in Macedonia became closer than some Albanian cities. It's especially important in winter when the snow is blocking the whole area. It makes easier for local citizens to get food and reach doctors in bordering towns of Macedonia rather than regional centres in Albania."

Sterjovski said residents in both countries have been waiting for the opening of the Golo Brdo checkpoint for 20 years. The crossing allows Albanian residents to reach Macedonia in 30 minutes. Sterjoski said this is convenient for citizens living in Albania and working in Macedonia.

Naum Sotiroski of Korca in Albania said the opening is a great opportunity for local residents.

"We come here to work because it is difficult to find a job back home," Sotiroski told SETimes. "Many young people in border regions are increasingly coming to work in the cities of Macedonia, and many of them go to school there to receive better education."

According to official data, more than 1,500 Albanian citizens are working in Macedonia. Most of them are coming from bordering regions of Pogradec, Korca, Elbasan, Lin, Mala Prespa and Pustec.

Stojanka Palko, general co-ordinator of the Macedonian Society Ilinden in Tirana, said the opening of new border crossing points is important for ethnic Albanians who are interested in working in Macedonia. She said Macedonia will also benefit.

"We are working intensively in order to open more border crossings because in that way Macedonians and Albanians will bring jobs easier and travel to neighbouring cities."

Miki Trajkovski/SETimes