Germany still undecided on Albanian EU membership bid despite progress – says Merkel

Albanian PM Edi Rama with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin
Albanian PM Edi Rama with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin

Berlin, Apr 27 (Tirana Echo) – Germany will decide on Albania’s opening of membership talks with the European Union only after consultations with other EU members, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in Berlin.

During a joint press conference with Albania’s PM Rama, Merkel said accession talks means Albania has to meet a series of conditions while noting the usual European tune that all Western Balkan countries should have a European perspective.

On April 17, the European Commission has proposed to open EU accession negotiations with Albania. We need to consult with the European Council about this in late June. There are a number of prerequisites for the accession talks to open. Albania has strongly met some of them. There are certain preconditions for opening accession negotiations. Over the coming weeks, we will make our final opinion, whether there are still some things that need to be done or whether sufficient progress has been made. We will talk about this with our European counterparts too.” said Merkel.

However, the German Chancellor did not fail to acknowledge progress by adding that “Albania has made significant reforms and has also made progress through reforms.

Last month the European Commission recommended unconditional opening of accession talks with the small Balkan country. EU member states have to decide on the issue during their upcoming European Council June meeting.

Merkel’s statements come as several radical MPs in her ruling CDU party have expressed reservations about further EU enlargement and Balkan countries joining anytime soon.

After meeting with the Albanian delegation in Berlin, Germany’s chair of the Bundestag EU Affairs Committee Gunther Krichbaum said that this is not the time for Albania to stary negotiating its membership with the EU.

Yesterday I welcomed the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, in the EU-Committee of the German Bundestag. I used this opportunity to tell him personally that I believe the opening of the accession negotiations to enter the EU is still too early. The reforms in Albania have not gone far enough yet.” – wrote Krichbaum on his Facebook page.

However, Albania’s prime minister Edi Rama who has in the past pointed out growing Russian and Turkish interests across the region, said Albania has done its bit and expects accession talks to be opened this year, as a recognition of its progress.

We have received the European Commission’s positive and unconditional recommendation to open the negotiations in recognition of these reform efforts at this first stage of the process and I very much hope that we will also receive Germany’s and the Chancellor’s support in June.” – Rama said during the press conference in Berlin.

The European Council meets in June to decide on whether to formally open chapters of negotiations with both Albania and Macedonia, after a positive recommendation by the European Commission, whose President Jean Claude Juncker said recently that opening fresh membership negotiations was now necessary to avoid the risk of a new conflict in the Balkans.

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