The Dutch government has stressed that Albania needs to meet all conditions laid out by the EU Council in March 2019 before it can sit in the first Intergovernmental Conference (IGC), which marks the start of EU talks for the country aspiring to become an EU member.
“Once all conditions as set in the March 2020 council conclusions have been fulfilled the first IGC can take place,” the Dutch government stressed in a statement sent to Exit News by the Netherlands Embassy in Albania on Tuesday.
It comes after Albania’s ruling Socialist Party claimed through its General Secretary Taulant Balla on Monday that 2021 elections in EU member states would be to blame if Albania fails to sit in EU talks during 2020.
It presents a summary of the recent developments regarding Albania’s EU path from the Dutch perspective, applauds the government reforms during the last year, and stresses that the Netherlands will actively support Albania to fulfil all remaining reforms until and after the first IGC.
“The Netherlands remains actively engaged to support Albania in its continuous reforms and in strengthening the rule of law,” the statement reads.
It underlines the functioning of the Constitutional Court, the amendment of the media law, and the fight against organized crime and corruption as the conditions that remain to be fulfilled.
The statement notes that the Dutch parliament today discussed Albania’s EU path, among other topics.
More details on the debate in parliament were published by Dutch MP Pieter Omtzigt on Tuesday night.
He highlighted that the Dutch government has “clearly stated that Albania does not fulfill the prerequisites for the IGC” and that Foreign Minister Stef Blok will vote against the start of EU talks with Albania.
MP Omtzigt pointed at the dysfunctioning Constitutional Court, lack of prosecution of senior officials, and the parliament’s changes of the electoral law without the consent of the extra-parliamentary opposition.
The problems discussed include the vacancies in the high court, prosecution of crime in high places and the electoral law reform and especially the 2nd unilateral part of that 'reform' (2)
— Pieter Omtzigt (@PieterOmtzigt) November 3, 2020
On Tuesday, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama blamed the possible failure of his government to sit in the first IGC on the Dutch government and media, who allegedly unjustly portray Albanians under a negative light.