Albanian PM Rama in Paris to meet Macron – France still hesitant about opening EU membership talks

emmanuel macron elysee edi rama france albania
French President Emmanuel Macron receives Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama at the Elysee

Paris, France, May 16 (Tirana Echo) – Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama has been received in Paris by the French President Emmanuel Macron , as the small Balkan country hopes to open membership talks with the European Union in June.

After having met with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin last month, Albania’s prime minister Rama has embarked on a mission to convince skeptical countries who might block Albania’s accession talks in the June meeting of the European Council.

France has been a long time skeptic alongside Germany and the Netherlands, demanding Albania to show tangible progress in cleaning up its corrupt judiciary, fighting organized crime and strengthening the rule of law.

Despite acknowledgement of visible progress in its judicial reform, both Merkel and Macron were hesitant to reveal their final decision on the German and French vote in June.

The Elysée did not issue an official statement on the meeting, however, upon his return to Tirana, Albanian prime minister Rama said he was encouraged by Macron’s words on the role of Albania in the region, its foreign policy which is totally in line with that of the EU, on its justice reform, the excellent cooperation of Albanian police with the French authorities and on its fight against corruption and organized crime.

Macron told me that the French decision is being thought thoroughly as this is not only about Albania and Macedonia, which deserve the highest appreciation for what they have achieved, but it is about a wider reform of Europe, its borders and migratory influxes which will impact the French vote in June. I can tell you that I am more optimist after the meeting then I was before it,” – said Rama yesterday in front of his socialist parliamentary group.

Rama’s diplomatic tour comes as the European Commission is pushing for the EU to expand into a region which is still scarred by ethnic wars fought in the 1990s and dogged by a reputation for lawlessness.

Last month it recommended opening accession talks with Albania and Macedonia, with member states expected to vote on the issue during their upcoming European Council meeting in June. Germany and France have been resistant to promising further enlargement, fearing popular anger at home.

The prospect of enlargement of the European Union to the Western Balkan countries has been back on the political agenda of the Europeans for a few months now. An special summit on the Western Balkans and the EU is taking place today in Sofia, Bulgaria, which holds the current EU presidency.

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