From: Arjola Tafaj
Rama in Brussels but No Date for First Intergovernmental Conference Yet

Albania and the European Union held their 11th meeting of the Stabilization and Association Council on Monday.

Following the meeting, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama held a joint press conference with the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, and the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi.

Borrell expressed that “Albania is a key partner of the EU”. He positively noted that it is a reliable partner and a positive example for the entire region.

He added that Albania has taken steps forward, referring to the justice reform. 

Borrell urged political parties to present candidates with integrity. “The spotlight will be on the upcoming parliamentary elections and transparency standards, based on OSCE/ODIHR recommendations.” 

“In the April 25 elections we emphasize that candidates must be with integrity, it is one of the key aspects, we have a message for all political parties: EU integration must be everyone’s objective, extreme polarization is not good and it is not in the interest of Albanians, but we expect to organize the first Intergovernmental Conference after the negotiating framework”, he added.

The SA Council stressed the importance of continuing the reform efforts, particularly with respect to the appointments of judges and investigators as well as the continued processing of pending cases and of further strengthening the track record of law enforcement.

The EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, said that  “Albania is the country that not only had to suffer the pandemic but was faced with an earthquake right before the pandemic hit. So, the challenges are exceptional in Albania, maybe even higher than anywhere else in the region.

Despite exceptional challenges brought by COVID-19 and the 2019 earthquake, Albania has delivered on its promises and met the criteria for the 1st intergovernmental Conference. It remains important that work doesn’t stop and that track record is enriched, he said.

The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli assessed that “Albania is delivering key reforms on the way to EU accession”.

Through a message on Twitter, Sassoli said that “European Parliament support for the timely start of the first intergovernmental conference”.

He described the meeting with PM Rama as “excellent”, adding that “The EU also stands ready to help in the fight against COVID-19”