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US urges end to nationalistic rhetoric in Albania

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December 14, 2012 07:37 AM EST | AP


TIRANA, Albania — The U.S. ambassador in Tirana has warned of an "unfortunate" rise in nationalist rhetoric by Albanian politicians ahead of elections next year.

Alexander A. Arvizu says attempts to inflame ethnic tensions could potentially destabilize the Balkans. His comments Friday follow calls from a small nationalist party for a referendum on uniting Albania with neighboring Kosovo, whose population is mostly ethnic Albanian.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha recently angered neighboring Greece with talk of Albanian lands including parts of Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. Tirana later said his comments, made ahead of Albania's 100th anniversary celebrations, had a purely historical context.

Berisha also promised citizenship for ethnic Albanians worldwide – an offer he later retracted.

Arvizu said voters should not fall for talk of an "illusory Greater Albania."