EU Ambassador surprised by Rama’s criticism against the EU

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 13, 2021 12:33

EU Ambassador surprised by Rama’s criticism against the EU


In an interview for the Voice of America, The EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca expressed his surprise on the critics Prima Minister Rama has made recently against the EU, for their lack of support to the Western Balkans in fighting the pandemic: “I have to admit that we were surprised by the statement issued by the Prime Minister at the beginning of the year; in particular after the year 2020 when the solidarity of the European Union and of the Member States has never been so visible. In a few days we are going to celebrate the first anniversary of the Donors Conference in Brussels, following the tragic earthquake of November 2019, when the European Union gathered so many stakeholders to put at the disposal of Albania more than 1 billion Euro and immediately 115 million Euro from the European Commission,” said Soreca.

The Ambassador reminded VOA that the EU presence in Albania towards the pandemic has been evident since the beginning: “Everybody has seen the numbers of medical equipment delivered. I think I myself have made seven deliveries of equipment that have helped the Albanian people to go through this difficult period. And then, the Economic and Investment Plan with 9 billion Euros for the next three years. And now, while the vaccination starts, unlike other partners, the European Union has not closed the door to vaccination assistance, on the opposite, has made available 70 million Euro which are immediately available for the countries of the region, including Albania, which will get an important amount of this quota, to make sure that our Member States willing to do so could use this money to donate or resell vaccines to Albania,” said Soreca. While the Ambassador acknowledged that the number of vaccines available for the EU could be less than what it is needed, he confirmed that the Union will make every effort possible in assisting Albania. The Ambassador said that Albania should prepare a vaccination plan in order to allow the EU to step in.

Another important issue discussed between Soreca and VOA was the integration process of Albania. While last year saw a postponement of the intergovernmental conference which would formally start the accession negotiations of Albania with the EU, Soreca is convinced that 2021 will be different. The proper functionality of the Constitutional Court, which was considered an essential requirement from the EU in order to start the accession negotiations, has become a reality, and for Soreca that means that Albania is closer to EU. “We are really very close and I think that during the current Portuguese Presidency of the Council, there is absolutely much hope that the first IGC will be called by the Council”, said the Ambassador, adding that “I have heard very clear words from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, who will be running the Council meetings where the decision will be taken, and he has confirmed the full commitment of the Portuguese presidency to move forward the agenda during Portuguese Presidency towards the start of negotiations for Albania and Northern Macedonia.”

The Ambassador discussed about the new enlargement methodology, which according to him will help Albania to facilitate its path towards the EU: “Albania has undergone one of the most difficult reforms that could be envisaged, the justice reform. When the negotiations will start, and this should happen soon, Albania has the potential to go faster, in my view, more than others, and I am taking the risk to say so, but I think that’s very important. I have always been very careful in talking about conditions because what matters is what the Member States in the Council Conclusions have identified as the steps to be taken. As of today, Albania has taken those steps,” said Soreca, who emphasized also the need for the justice reform to continue at a steady pace.

As for the anti-slander draft reformulation, Soreca said that “the Albanian government has decided not to pursue the adoption of a media law, but to continue to examine best practices. Should the Albanian Government decide to come back to the idea that for the moment I understand has been set aside, we will put on the table the same principles: need for a thorough consultation of the media community, of civil society, independence of the authority that decides on the freedom of expression.”

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 13, 2021 12:33