European Western Balkans

Remarks by Donald Tusk after meeting with PM of Albania

Donald Tusk and Edi Rama

Good morning. Let me first of all thank Prime Minister Rama for the wise and responsible words on terrorism. Today in Tirana, Paris and Brussels there is fear, and there is hope. I am confident that hope and freedom are stronger than fear and terrorism.

The Western Balkans and in fact all of Europe is facing an enormous challenge with the current influx of migrants and refugees. I appreciate Albania’s readiness to contribute to the management of the refugee crisis. The scale of this challenge, and the pace of events, means that we all have to work together, to address it in true partnership. The European Union is ready to provide support in this context.

Western Balkans countries are on the frontline as primary transit routes into Europe. The European Union has to help you manage the flows, just as we are working with other countries to address the root causes. We are privileged to share visa-free travel between us. This privilege needs to be safeguarded, and that also means effectively controlling the external borders. We all need to do this together, in cooperation and coordination, to ensure that it is organised and properly managed.

At the same time, we understand that countries in this region need our support in this. I will encourage European Member States to step up our support, so that our support is commensurate to the burden on the front line, and make sure that we and you are ready to adapt to changes along the way.

In our meeting, we also reaffirmed our mutual commitment to Albania’s EU integration process, and welcomed the findings of the 2015 Albania Report, showing steady progress in addressing reform priorities. This is crucial to address outstanding challenges, and to allow Albania to make further steps on its path towards the European Union.

We agreed on the importance of cross-party support to finalise key outstanding reforms, in particular a reform of the judiciary, which should strengthen the independence, accountability, efficiency and professionalism of the judicial system.

Finally, we discussed Albania’s commitment to regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations. The European Union appreciates your country’s full alliance with our common values, particularly in alignment with the EU common foreign and security policy, such as our joint response to Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, integrity and independence. This is also a clear sign that Albania is a reliable partner for the EU. I am personally convinced that there is no alternative to the European path. And I am convinced you will achieve it. Thank you.

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