BRUSSELS – We have seen an increased presence of Russia in the past five or six years, but the majority of people in the Western Balkans prefer the European Union, said Minister of Foreign Affairs of Albania, Ditmir Bushati in his interview for the EUobserver.
He explained that the EU is “much more attractive” for political as well as economic reasons. When it comes to Albania’s neighbours, the minister said that he does not know any country that could put a question mark over their EU accession process, because of a special partnership with Russia or some special treatment that Russia could offer.
“It is about how public life is conducted [in Europe], how wealth is distributed in society, human rights, respect for minorities – this is the set of norms and values we would like to develop,” he said.
Bushati pointed out that there is a difference between Russia’s presence and its obstructive activity in certain countries in relation to Euro-Atlantic or European accession processes.
“Russia was quite active in our neighbour, it was coming out with policy statements [on the Macedonia crisis] more frequently than the EU,” he said.
Regarding the Albania’s alignment with the foreign policy of the EU, Bushati pointed out that Albania fully aligned itself with EU foreign policy, which includes imposing economic sanctions on Russia.
“We have never allowed ourselves to sit in two chairs,” he said, alluding to Serbia, an EU candidate which boycotted the EU sanctions and which has cultivated closer ties with Russia, reports the EUobserver.