Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama expressed his dissatisfaction and disappointment with a statement of President Stevo Pendarovski of North Macedonia, who said last week that the EU should decouple the integration process of his country from that of Albania.
Yesterday, Rama reminded Pendarovski of the Albanian ethnic minority’s contribution – as well as Albania’s – in North Macedonia’s EU integration process. He also expressed his dissatisfaction with the president’s call for a separate assessment of both countries’ progress.
“President @SPendarovski implicitly favours “decoupling from Albania”? Strange to hear this, especially when one considers the key contribution of Albania&Albanians in our friendly neighbour’s state democratic developments&European path. Doesn’t sound right nor practical frankly!” Rama twitted.
In an interview with Euractiv on June 13, Pendarovski stated that decoupling the EU path of both countries was necessary for North Macedonia to move forward with opening accession negotiations with the EU.
“The biggest problem now is the decoupling with Albania. Albania is now in disarray. The opposition has walked out of institutions and it’s getting tenser. So what can we say here? We have had positive recommendations from the Commission before, and we’ve been decoupled before,” Pendarovski stated.
Pendarovski’s statement came after growing concerns that his country’s EU integration path might be linked to Albania’s progress; i.e. accession negotiations would open either for both countries or for neither of the two.
North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had also made similar remarks few days ago in Brussels.
Whilst chances for North Macedonia to move forward in the integration process seem higher compared to Albania’s, there are also concerns among European diplomats that such a decision, coupled with postponing a positive decision for Albania, could lead to a rise of Albanian nationalism in the region.
Prime Minister Edi Rama has warned the EU against such a scenario in his earlier statements. He has evoked fears of rising nationalism and Russian influence in Albania.
Rama has been facing strong opposition and regular protests against his rule since February this year, when Albania’s opposition left the parliament.
Chances for Albania to open accession negotiations with the EU seem to have diminished, particularly after the Dutch Parliament passed a motion demanding the government to vote against.
Prime Minister Edi Rama’s failure to bring the country one step forward in the EU path could result in an increased dissatisfaction with his government, which is already under pressure due to accusation of vote – buying, links to criminal groups and corruption.