Albania: Potential to move higher up in the enlargement process
"Albania has an opportunity to take an important step in its EU accession process this year. But the pace of progress depends entirely on its performance in undertaking the necessary reforms," Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood policy Štefan Füle said in Tirana on Thursday. "It is important to finalise the implementation of the political agreement from last November and continue with the constructive political dialogue on the issues related to the European agenda," he added when commenting on the content of the discussions with the representatives of the government and opposition. During his stay in Tirana he met with President Bamir Topi, Speaker of the Assembly Jozefina Topalli, Prime Minister Sali Berisha, several ministers, leader of the opposition Socialist Party Edi Rama as well as Ombudsman Igli Totozani.
"I am encouraged by the determination of our Albanian partners to carry on with the necessary reforms and by the clear substantive agenda on how to achieve this," Commissioner Fule said before leaving Tirana. He mentioned the completion of the electoral reform, good preparation and conduct of presidential elections and showing tangible results in the fight against corruption and organised crime among the important elements when delivering on the 12 key priorities that the European Commission has defined for Albania move forward in the accession process. In this respect the forthcoming election of the President will be of particular significance and a test of the ability of the political forces to reach a consensus: "The November agenda needs to be finalised before the procedure for the presidential election starts, otherwise the election of the president could become part of the problem and not part of the solution," Commissioner Fule stressed and continued: "We are talking about how to reach the critical mass of deliverables , clear progress and how to build on the achievements seen so far so that the European Commission and subsequently the Member States would be able to make bold decisions to move Albania to a higher level as far as the EU agenda is concerned," Commissioner Füle stated. He elaborated on this in his speech to the members of parliament, when he said in the Albanian Assembly that he believed in Albania´s capacity to achieve it provided there is further progress based on the dialogue between political forces, capacity to find consensus and delivering concrete and tangible results in the EU-related reforms.
After the separate meeting with Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Edmond Haxhinasto, Commissioner Füle commended Albania for the role it is playing in the region, its understanding of the importance of regional cooperation, its good relations with its neighbours and for discouraging nationalism and extremism. During his meeting with the Ombudsman Igli Totozani Commissioner Füle expressed his full support for his work and appreciated his approach in defending the rights of citizens, particularly those from vulnerable and minority groups. "The work you do is very important and it is very much connected to the enlargement agenda since respect for human rights and protecting and upholding the rights of the citizens form a part of the core values of the European Union."
More information: Commissioner Füle's address to the members of the Albanian Parliament