Three Balkan states claim link to world's newest saint Mother Theresa

Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo have warmly welcomed Pope Francis' recognition of Mother Teresa as a saint on Sunday, with all three Balkan countries claiming links to the iconic nun.

Mother Teresa was born in 1910 in Ushkup, which today is the Macedonian capital Skopje. Her family was Albanian, though Catholic, with most of the Albanians being Muslim. 

Apart from Albania proper, Albanians are an overwhelming majority in Kosovo and make up one-quarter of the Macedonian population. 

"Our people gave the world a loving mother to all," Kosovo President Hashim Thaci, an ethnic Albanian, said at the celebrations in Rome. 

Kosovo's Catholic Bishop Dod Gjergji said September 4 is an important day for the whole world, "because Mother Teresa ... became a symbol of unity, reconciliation and love."

The former province was the scene of a brutal 1999 war that majority Albanians fought with Serbia for independence. The war left deep scars across the region and Gjergi urged for peace. 

Mother Teresa's canonization is important "particularly for us Albanians, but also for all churches and peoples in the Balkans, it is a great day, because through Mother Teresa we can find each other and reconcile," he said.

Albania's foreign minister, Ditmir Bushati, wrote on his Facebook page: "Small country - big saints."

The country has memorialized the saint's youth in Albania with a Mother Teresa Square at the centre of the capital Tirana and have named the airport there after her.

In Skopje, Mother Teresa' original house does not exist anymore, but on the location there is a new memorial - a museum built in the style of the house and a bronze statue.

With Macedonia locked in a long-lasting political crisis owing to the feuding of the main political leaders, caretaker Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev invoked Mother Teresa's values as a pointer for the way out from the crisis.

"In ... Macedonia's lasting political crisis, this is a good opportunity to remember Mother Teresa's acts and the possibility to embrace her values," Dimitriev said, state news agency MIA reported.

"It would absolutely help us overcome this crisis, as she helped [people] regardless of their faith, skin colour or race," he added.

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