Rama: Accession Negotiations Won’t Open in June But EU Doors Aren’t Closed

Prime Minister Edi Rama stated today that the decision for opening accession negotiations between Albania and EU will not be taken in June. He explained that this is due to the Bundestag needing more time to review the European Commission’s report, which is expected to be released by the end of May, so as not to influence the European elections. The German parliament will come up with a decision in September, Rama added.

He said that it is too early to talk about the EU’s decision on launching negotiations with Albania because that depends on Albania’s achievements but also on the political situation in the EU.

At today’s meeting with the Parliamentary Group of the Socialist Party, Rama attacked the media in Albania and Kosovo for the “follies and wickedness” reflected against his government. Using derogatory terms against the media and the opposition, he claimed that they were misinforming the public about the results of the Berlin Summit called by Chancellor Merkel and President Macron, and that they wanted to push the country into destruction.

Rama went on to say that the Berlin Summit had nothing to do with the integration of these countries into the EU, specifically with the opening of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. Later in his speech, he said that Chancellor Merkel had in fact had a meeting with him on the opening of negotiations.

“Chancellor Merkel had two bilateral meetings with me and Zaev regarding the opening of negotiations, but as at other times, I did not go to [this meeting] to see Germany’s decision in the Chancellor’s office, knowing that this decision goes through the Bundestag, and moreover the report of the [European] Commission is not out yet.”

Rama expressed his confidence that France and Germany will not close the door to the opening of accession negotiations with Albania.

“We have very good relations with France and Germany and I am confident they will not close the door this year. We were received with great respect and they appreciated our process toward integration. They assured us of their very positive disposition to formalize the opening of negotiations.”

The Prime Minister also explained that by “formalizing the opening of negotiations” he meant that in June 2018 the European Council had already written that accession negotiation with Albania will be launched this year.

In fact, last year the Council agreed “to set out a path towards opening accession negotiations with [Albania] in June 2019” but didn’t decide then, one year ahead, that negotiation will launch this year.

The European elections are expected to bring more Eurosceptic MPs to the European Parliament which in turn is also expected to put more pressure on governments for a stricter assessment of enlargement criteria.   

Reports of Financial Times from the Berlin Summit with the Western Balkans said that Germany and France had poured cold water on Balkan hopes for immediate EU accession.