TIRANA – Prime Minister Edi Rama told a joint press conference with the visiting European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Affairs, Federica Mogherini, on Friday that the visit of the EU’s foreign policy chief would determine the fate of Albania’s EU membership negotiations through implementation of justice reform and vetting law, Albanian news agency ATA reports.
“Mogherini’s visit to Tirana takes place at a time of challenges and at a crucial moment for the fate of negotiations with EU, embarking on the process of implementing the justice reform and vetting law. And to that end, this visit is far more important than on other normal days, therefore our meeting was as friendly, as candid and concrete as ever,” PM told a media briefing after the meeting with EU senior official.
Rama voiced his commitment to working with relentless determination on fulfilment of five key priorities which, according to him, will guide us beyond the opening of accession negotiations.
“I’m convinced we have embarked on a joint process in order to buy time for the negotiations. This will show that Albania is ready to start the membership talks,” the Premier stated.
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, reiterated that European Union was ready to open the accession talks with Albania once implementation of judicial reform, and the vetting law in particular, starts.
Now the ball is in your court – Mogherini went on saying – “we are ready to do that. We are keen to see progress of reforms and this progress to continue.”
“I’ve been pretty clear in my meetings today. I’ve been very clear in saying that those who seek to delay or dilute key reforms are actually putting the EU integration agenda at risk,” Mogherini stated. The EU foreign policy chief noted that “Albania has achieved a lot, in particular with the groundbreaking unanimous adoption of the justice reform and the major importance of this reform was acknowledged by the European Union last year with the European Commission’s decision to open the negotiations.”
“However, negotiations are subject to progress in implementation of justice reform and continued progress in addressing the five key priorities. This includes also the fight against corruption and organized crime and in particular cultivation and trafficking in narcotics,” she added.
Mogherini highlighted that Albanian citizens clearly want the country to join the EU and the European Union is ready to be serious and consistent on opening the negotiations.
“I was also clear that boycott of the parliament means blocking the establishment of the vetting commissions and de facto it stops Albania’s progress towards the EU. This is the moment when the country has the real possibility to move forward on its EU path,” the EU foreign policy chief said.
Mogherini welcomed the governing coalition’s invitation to dialogue with the opposition.
“I know today there were signals of opening of a political space for dialogue inside or outside the parliament and I hope that this space can be used to make progress on this path, because as I said the European Union’s door is open to Albania and we are looking forward to welcoming you in the Union and the negotiations can start in the moment when implementation of the justice reform starts,” Mogherini stated.
However, Mogherini noted that preparations should be made in order to hold June 18 elections in a free and fair manner.
“The few months that remain until the elections should be used for the implementation of some of OSCE/ODHIR recommendations and the EU will be ready to accompany and support this process with all possible means,” she said.
Speaking about developments in the region, Mogherini underlined that Albania has a crucial role to play in the region.