Albania won’t open negotiations before the end of 2019, Frei says

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 3, 2018 13:16

Albania won’t open negotiations before the end of 2019, Frei says

Story Highlights

  • Asked concerning the widely debated issue of an exact date to open negotiations with Albania, Frei said it was agreed in Brussels that the vote for Albania’s and Macedonia’s negotiations will remain in the 2019 agenda, after elections for the European Parliament.

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TIRANA, July 3 – In an interview for Deutsche Welle Shqip, reporter for the German parliamentary group CDU/CSU Thorsten Frei said that EU membership negotiations with Albania won’t open before the end of 2019.

Asked concerning the widely debated issue of an exact date to open negotiations with Albania, Frei said it was agreed in Brussels that the vote for Albania’s and Macedonia’s negotiations will remain in the 2019 agenda, after elections for the European Parliament take place.

However, he clarified, this is not a decision that belongs to the Council of Foreign Ministers but to the European Council, and since the council did not directly decide on it, it cannot be interpreted as neither a “yes” or a “no,” despite claims for either by the Albanian government and opposition.

“The date will depend, but not before the end of 2019. We, as a parliamentary group of the CDU and CSU parties, would have already welcomed a decision to open accession negotiations under some conditions. For Albania, we would have agreed to open negotiations under two conditions: the finalization of the vetting for 57 of the highest judges and prosecutors and the finalization of the electoral reform,” Frei added.

Concerning the electoral reform, which is the second important condition Germany will be setting after the vetting of judges and prosecutors, Frei clarified it will be considered successful only once the latest elections for local power take place under the new electoral reform, which needs to be approved based on a consensus with the country’s opposition.  

It is unclear, judging by the current political situation in Albania, how able will the government be to reach a consensus with the opposition on the electoral reform, which is asking for its resignation every other week.

DW also asked Frei about the contested possibility that Albania might take Europe’s unwanted migrants in camps in exchange for gaining candidate status, like the front-runners Serbia and Montenegro.

“We cannot expect Albania to sacrifice itself for this issue. Why does it need to do that? Isn’t Albania gonna become an EU member?” Frei asked, saying the refugee camps would make more sense being placed somewhere outside the EU, like North Africa.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 3, 2018 13:16