Brussels, March 23 (Tirana Echo) – Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama has urged the European Union to open membership talks with Albania, noting the small Balkan country has met the conditions of the European Commission.
Speaking at a special event at the European Parliament, Rama said Albania has done its bit and it is now time for the EU to open accession talks.
“We think we fully deserve the opening of the accession talks. I’m sure that for many people in this room, who have knowledge about our country’s history and about all the efforts that have been made by the country over the past years, it is not difficult to understand why it is so important to enter this new phase. But maybe, for others is also important to know how many efforts, as well as how many difficulties we have gone through to arrive to this moment,” – Rama said.
The prime minister noted that the EU should look at the geopolitical ramifications in a region where other actors compete for influence, hinting at Russian meddling in the Balkans.
Rama underlined the fact that the Balkans today “is a region fully devoted to the European project, but also an area where other actors look for potential interference with a very clear geostrategic vision. So, we should not and nobody here in this building and in this city, should not forget what has been achieved is a big achievement, but it is also important to be protected and consolidated in order to make sure that the future will not bring back to us the ghosts of the past.”
Pointing at recent constitutional changes to reform Albania’s judiciary system, Rama noted that the country is currently advancing with its vetting of judges and prosecutors.
He said that public hearings are to start this week with the intention of scanning the integrity and eligibility of every judge in the system.
The European union has conditioned its accession talks on Albania’s tangible progress in reforming its judiciary, police force and in tackling corruption as well as organised crime.
During the same event, the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said “Albania has made further progress towards meeting the political criteria for membership and, overall, steady progress continued in the five key priorities, reforming the judiciary and the public administration, fighting corruption and organised crime, and protecting human rights.”
PM Rama echoed the message by concluding that “Albania is not asking for any gift, nor asking for any favour it doesn’t deserve. We are simply asking to open accession talks, because we deserve it.”