From: Bledar Qalliu
Albanian Prime Minister Blames Possible Failure in EU Talks on 2021 Dutch Elections   

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has blamed his government’s possible failure in starting EU accession negotiations within 2020 on the next year’s Dutch general election.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Rama maintained that his government has fulfilled all conditions to sit in the first intergovernmental conference with the EU, which would mark the start of EU accession talks for Albania.

“The Dutch position is clearly influenced by the domestic situation[…] I cannot accept that the Netherlands is more attentive to standards than Sweden, Finland, and France. I cannot accept that,” Rama told journalists.

While North Macedonia’s start of talks seems to be on the right path, Albania has still to get the support of at least one EU member, the Netherlands, who seems not convinced of the progress made by the Rama government.

This week, the Dutch government said it expects Albanian to meet all EU Council conditions before the start of talks, and not some of them. It stressed the functioning of the Constitutional Court and the controversial media law pushed forward by the ruling majority against numerous national and international organizations’ suggestions.

Rama has repeatedly denied the existence of the EU Council conditions.

On Monday, his Socialist Party also claimed that, if Albania is unable to get a unanimous vote in the EU Council to start talks, it should be blamed on the Netherland’s, France’s, and Germany’s elections next year. It implies that, due to the negative image of Albanians in these countries, their governments and political parties would risk losing elections if they vote in favor of Albania’s progress towards the EU.

“Look at the [newspaper] articles that talk about Albanian gangs being defeated, and then when you read about the composition of the gang, there are two Albanians and there are 12 others – Dutch, Belgian, Moroccan, Polish. It’s political, it’s electoral, the Netherlands has elections in March next year,” Rama highlighted in live television on Tuesday.

This is a repeated claim by the ruling Socialist Party of Albania every year it is faced with its failure to open EU accession talks, despite positive reports by the European Commission. Last year, the Socialists directed similar criticism against President Emmanuel Macron and his alleged plan to reach political objectives in his country and the EU by using Albania as a scapegoat.

North Macedonia is expected to start EU talks during the German presidency of the EU, within 2020. Leaders of the Western Balkans and the EU will meet in Sofia, Bulgaria on November 10, to discuss the regions progress.