EC President Tusk – Integration of Albania and the Balkans is in the interest of the EU

edi rama donald tusk albania eu european commission
Albanian PM Edi Rama and EU Commission President Donald Tusk in Tirana

Tirana, Albania, Apr 24 (Tirana Echo) – The full integration Albania and the whole Balkan region into the European Union is in the very best European interest – Donald Tusk the President of the European Council has said today in Tirana.

Tusk made his comments during a press conference in Tirana with Albanian prime minister Edi Rama whom he congratulated on recently obtaining a positive recommendation from the European Commission to open membership accession talks.

The President of the European Council which is to decide on opening membership talks with Albania and Macedonia in its upcoming June meeting in Brussels, said that Albania has made great efforts and the small Balkan country is getting ready to start one of the most positive political projects in its history.

There will be many challenges and hard work on the way, starting with ensuring the rule of law, fight against organized crime and ambitious justice system reform. What you have made is enough – and I want to be very clear – to open accession talks.” – said Tusk in Tirana.

The President of the European Council pointed out that it is important that regional connectivity is improved in a region of Europe where travel between capitals like Tirana and Zagreb takes longer than flights to China.

Albania and other countries of the Western Balkans should be fully integrated into Pan-European transport corridors.” – said Tusk.

Tusks comments on transport connectivity come as a German sponsored project called the Berlin Process promised  since 2014 that improving transport links between Balkan capitals will be a priority. Apart from annual conferences, the projects has done little to change the dire picture of Balkan connectivity.

Prime Minister Edi Rama who is due to meet with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin tomorrow, said that Tusk knows the region and its challenges too well, and that improving regional interaction is also good for Europe.

We also discussed on deepening regional cooperation and interaction where I emphasized that this transformative process for the region is directly linked to the European perspective of our countries,” – Rama noted.

Albania hopes to open membership talks in June, when the member states will meet in Brussels to decide on the positive recommendation by the European Commission. Albania and Macedonia will have to convince several skeptic member states who fear a further enlargement of the Union will further alienate their home crowds from the European project.

Another challenge will be to convince all EU Member States in June to agree to start negotiations. I am aware that this process will resemble more a hurdle race than a motorway. But I have no doubt that full integration remains our common destiny. The EU and the Western Balkans belong together. You can count on me also in this very complicated and challenging process.” – noted Donald Tusk in its press conference in Tirana.

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