Bushati: EU enlargement strategy crucial for our region

Ditmir Bushati; Photo: European Union

TIRANA – The ongoing efforts at implementation of justice reform will pave the way for Albania to catch up with the two neighbouring countries that have started the accession negotiations,” the Head of Albanian diplomacy Ditmir Bushati said in his address at the event “Territorial Cooperation, new perspective for encouragement of European integration”.

Bushati said that the European Commission’s Strategy for enlargement which will be outlined by President Juncker next month is another positive step for our region because it brings enlargement policy into the political focus and puts it into perspective in the face of scepticism about further EU enlargement.

“What we expect from this strategy are concrete proposals for the next steps ahead in the process of adherence for regional countries, including Albania, from a short and long-time perspective,” stated Bushati.

“It is clear that the quality and momentum of key reforms, particularly those pertaining to reinforcement of rule of law, are directly linked with the concrete perspective and positive pressure that EU can put on our countries,” Bushati said.

He also expressed his confidence that continuity of justice reform will allow Albania to catch up with the neighbouring countries that have started the EU negotiations.

Therefore, perseverance and commitment are crucial. Alignment of legislation and interaction between us and the EU will not lead to organic integration of our region and the rest of Europe as long as there is an economic and development gap.

The Head of EU delegation in Tirana Romana Vlahutin said that at the core of EU policy is cooperation.

“The EU projects will benefit cohabitation all across the region and businesses on cross-border areas. These projects have boosted development in several municipalities across the country. These programs contribute to nature conservation,” she said.

Over the period 2014-2020, some EUR 242 mln have been allocated in the light of IPA for projects in this region as well as cross-border projects. To Albania, it implies a total of EUR 33.2 mln for projects involving Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia and EUR 148 mln for projects involving Italy and Greece.

“Beyond money, these projects have an impact on the citizens’ life. As a matter of fact, anyone in the Western Balkans has a history of long queues on border, particularly during vacations or in summer,” she added.