Rama, Mitsotakis meeting reconfirms change in Greek stand regarding EU accession

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 24, 2019 10:36

Rama, Mitsotakis meeting reconfirms change in Greek stand regarding EU accession

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  • In particular, Mitsotakis has spoken about the issue of self-determination and the property rights of the Greek ethnic minority in Albania.

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TIRANA, Sept. 24 – Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama met with Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Monday where they briefly discussed Albania’s accession to the European Union, ahead of the European Council’s meeting in October, which is to decide whether Albania will open accession negotiations with the EU. 

The meeting took place at the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly, in New York.

Rama said little concerning the talks with the newly-elected counterpart, writing on Facebook that they had a “friendly introduction and an open discussion.”

Meanwhile, Mitsotakis underlined Albania’s steps towards the EU in relation to the country’s bilateral relations with Greece and its stand on Greek minority issues, which has become a turning point in the Greek foreign policy since Mitsotakis came to office. 

“We discussed Albania’s accession path and steps towards meeting the conditions set by the EU, focusing on the issues of the Greek ethnic minority,” he wrote.

In particular, Mitsotakis has spoken about the issue of self-determination and the property rights of the Greek ethnic minority in Albania.

In this context, according to Greek sources, Rama expressed his readiness to cooperate with Greece on issues of particular interest to the country.

The Greek Prime Minister stressed that he was in favor of the Western Balkans’ accession prospects, provided all the conditions set by the European Union were met.

Albania is looking forward to a positive vote on opening accession talks with the EU by all countries at the October meeting of the European Council, although Germany has already announced it will agree to opening negotiations under some pre-conditions. 

Like every other EU member state, Greece has a veto power in the Council. 

Three weeks ahead of the decision, it seems that the Greek government has at this point no clear position regarding Albania next step in the EU integration process. 

Although chances for a Greek veto are very low, public statements by the new Mitsotakis government are worrisome for Albania’s EU integration, as Greece has previously unconditionally supported Albania’s EU accession.

Mitsotakis has also kept a similar approach before when he was in opposition and as prime minister.

Two weeks ago, he reportedly stated that Greece will not support EU accession talks with Albania until it shows “tangible” results in its treatment of the Greek ethnic minority.

The statement marked a change in the Greek foreign policy toward Albania, after the center-right government of Mitsotakis replaced the socialist government of Alexis Tsipras in July.

When he was in opposition, back in March, Mitsotakis reportedly said he wanted to send a “clear message to the Albanian government, […] that it is not possible to start the process of Albania’s EU accession when there is absolutely no respect for the rights of the Greek ethnic minority.”

His comments came following reports that the Albanian government had prepared a draft-law that would allow for the expropriation of land to be used for strategic investments. The initiative would have also affected the Greek minority, which comprises about 2% of the Albanian population. The Albanian government later withdrew from the initiative.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 24, 2019 10:36