Albania "ready to start accession negotiations with the EU," says Isabel Santos MEP

After three days of a fact-finding mission in Albania, the European Parliament’s standing rapporteur for the country, Isabel Santos MEP underlined that the country has fulfilled all the criteria and has done everything that it was requested to do, to start accession negotiations with the European Union. Santos called on the member states to finally schedule the first Intergovernmental Conference (IGC).

At the same time, she insisted that for the enlargement efforts to succeed, the dialogue and cooperation between the Albanian majority and the opposition needs to prevail over political disputes.

While in Tirana, Santos met in the last three days with President Ilir Meta, Prime Minister Edi Rama, Speaker Lindita Nikolla, leaders of the political groups in Parliament as well as representatives of NGOs, the media community, students and academics. She also visited some of the many projects that the European Union finances in the country, like the Multimedia Laboratory in Durres University.

Isabel Santos said: “I am truly impressed by the quality of the many projects that the European Union finances in Albania. Not only with the pre-accession funds, that continue to be allocated, but also with the special help for the earthquake recovery - we are now seeing many different investments, including schools of very high quality, that have been reconstructed with European help. They are the real proof that the EU is already in Albania and that the integration of the Albanian people into the EU is actually happening every day thanks to this work.

“The European Parliament has been very clear for a long time, recognising the progress made by Albania and repeatedly saying that Albania is ready to advance in its accession progress. The European Commission report of last month confirmed that the country has completed all necessary steps to start accession talks. The Council should hold the first Intergovernmental Conference without further delay.

“I believe this would further commit Albania’s different political actors to face together the remaining challenges and succeed in the efforts of becoming an EU Member. That is why I am happy to see that after the election, the Parliament has been able to resume its work and the democratic dialogue between the majority and the opposition. This political dialogue is crucial for the reform of the justice system and the continuation of the vetting process of all judges and prosecutors. The same goes for the discussions about electoral reform, in line with the recommendations from the OSCE/ODIHR.”

Image: European Parliament.

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