On the doorstep of the EU summit in Brussels, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama levied harsh words against Bulgaria and other member states over the “kidnapping” of Tirana and Skopje due to Bulgaria’s accession veto.
The two-day summit brings together all EU leaders and the Western Balkan’s six leaders to discuss enlargement, including that of Ukraine.
Rama and his Macedonian and Serbian counterparts almost boycotted the event but vowed to attend at the 11th hour after positive signals came from Sofia.
Not one to mince his words, Rama was quick to criticise Bulgaria for holding up the EU accession path. Calling it a “mess”, “disgrace”, and a “shame” he added, “It is not good to see the other 26 countries sit still in a scary show of impotence.”
Referring to the almost-boycott of the summit by Tirana, Skopje, and Belgrade, Rama said it was due to Bulgaria’s veto, noting that “a NATO country kidnaps two other NATO countries when there is a hot war in Europe’s backyard.”
He added that “Albanian would continue to work on reforms, not because Brussels is asking, but because that is what Albania’s children want.”
However, Rama was not optimistic about the summit, stating, “I prefer to not expect good news…It is a new day in Europe, but not in Bulgaria.”
On the topic of Ukraine, Rama said Albania had been a candidate for eight years and North Macedonia for 13, “so welcome to Ukraine, it is a good thing to give candidate status, but I hope the Ukrainian people will not make any illusions about it,” he concluded.
The prime minister also spoke of the Open Balkan initiative, stating it is open for everyone and offers regional collaboration while the path of EU integration continues.
Answering questions over the possible boycott of the summit by Albania, Serbia, and North Macedonia, Serbian President Aleksander Vucic said it was due to the blocking of Tirana and Skopje’s accession path.
“We were discussing the issue of Bulgaria and North Macedonia and that was the reason. EU countries wanted to block the opening of negotiations,” he told the media.
“We are here, we are here to discuss our European future. We believe there will be some good outcomes. If it happens good. If not, we are profoundly grateful for the EU investing big amounts of money into our countries.”
He concluded that, ”We respect ourselves, at least we think we do more than some others.”