Published on: 26 June 2018

Press conference of Minister Ditmir Bushati following the decision of the EU Council

Good evening everyone!

Today is a good day for Albania, for our neighbour Macedonia and certainly for the entire united Europe and the future of the European project. A few minutes ago the Council, more specifically, the Ministers of the European Union Member States decided to respond positively to the recommendation of the European Commission to open the accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia. The Council has also clearly set a deadline within which the entire preparatory process for the negotiation table will take place.

The Council urged the EC to start the preparatory process with Albania, without wasting any more time given the fact it has clearly designed the way towards the accession negotiations and has also set a deadline - June 2019 - for the initiation of the accession negotiations. Certainly, this is a well-known practice for the European Union which in the case of Serbia and Montenegro established a time frame within which the preparatory work took place from the moment the Council took the decision until the moment the accession negotiations started.

Commissioner Johannes Hahn has been very clear in support of this process today after the sessions of this Council, as well as the EU Presidency, and we believe that Albania is already on the irreversible path towards the EU accession process. The discussions of these days at all levels, whether at diplomatic levels or at the level of Foreign Ministers of the EU Member States, proved something we have been saying for a long time and we have witnessed it at the same time: the course of the reforms undertaken by Albania, especially from the moment it received the status of the candidate country, is impressive and it will certainly need to further deepen in the coming days and months. We will sit together with the European Commission without any further delay for the preparatory process so that next June, Albania’s position will be more solid in meeting all the obligations related to Albania's membership in the European Union. 

As I said at the beginning, today was also a significant day for the European project too. The debates of the recent days, weeks and months on the future of the European project itself have put into question the enlargement process itself. The last 72 hours have been difficult hours, where we had to communicate with all the decision-making levels, with chancelleries, with Elysees, Hague and Brussels, to communicate in details the reform process and what will come next. On this occasion, on behalf of the Albanian Government and the Albanian people, I would like to say a big thank you to the European Commission, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Johannes Hahn, the President of the Commission Juncker, together with all the services of the Commission, the technical expertise, the European Delegation to Albania with whom the Albanian civil servants worked and managed to have an unconditional and straightforward recommendation to open the accession negotiations, after 9 years since its application for EU membership.

I would like to thank each and every member country, starting with the EU Presidency for keeping the enlargement issue on the agenda of the EU, the EU Member States that unanimously supported the reform agenda in Albania, outlined the irreversible path towards negotiations despite debates within Europe, despite fully understandable difficulties which a great number of the EU Member States are facing as the migrant crisis, the upcoming elections, populism that tends to be prevalent, but eventually reason and the need to clearly encourage the reform process in Albania, in the region, triumphed.

There is one last thing I have to say about the message we received today from the EU. Unfortunately, these days a number of Albanian politicians, media, all sorts of political and media speculators, had bet June 28 as the judgement day for the Government and Edi Rama, as if the European integration process was simply and only related to the fate of one Government and the fate of one Prime Minister. In fact, this is a process related to the fate and the future of Albania and the Albanian people. And I am glad that the bet of these political and media speculators was not fulfilled today. The EU spoke clearly in support of all the reforms undertaken by Albania. Today is a happy day not only for the Government, the institutions, the civil servants, the army of the employees that was involved in this process from the first moment until today's decision, but it is a happy day for all the Albanian people and I hope that no one, despite their wrong bet, should feel excluded from this day and this joint success. 

Thank you.

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