Since the opening of negotiations from European Commission almost two years ago, Albania has not held its First Intergovernmental Conference yet. Government Political Leaders assure that Albania has done all its “homework” and no EU Member State can have problems that hinder formal opening of negotiations. With twenty-eight requests for information and opinions of field experts, “Faktoje” verified that even Albania’s EU accession “sceptic” countries, such as Netherlands or Denmark, have finally agreed that our country has really done its homework.

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‘Albania has done all its ‘homework’ and no there is no EU Member State to have problems that hinder the formal opening of negotiations.’stated the Deputy Prime Minister Arben Ahmetaj on 18 January 2022, at a press conference in Tirana, which was also attended by Anna Luhrmann, German Minister of State for Europe and Climate.

“Faktoje” submitted twenty-seven requests for information respectively addressed to the Foreign Ministries of each European Union Member State and an invitation for input addressed to the European Commission.

Requests for information addressed to the European Commission

‘Both Albania and North Macedonia have met the conditions to start accession negotiations. The Commission will be in touch with all relevant parties and will work with the Presidency to reach our common goal of starting officially accession negotiations with both Albania and North Macedonia as soon as possible.” – was stated in the European Commission response replying to ‘Faktoje’ request.

European Commission Response

France has also been answered directly.

We have clearly stated that Albania and North Macedonia have met their conditions to attend the First Intergovernmental Conference, which is expected to be held soon’ – was stated in the answer of the state holding the European Union Presidency as of 1st January.

Germany, which held the Presidency of the European Union in the second half of last year, answered questions by quoting the Minister of State for Europe and Climate, Anna Luhrmann.

Albania has recently made significant progress regarding democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Structures have also been set up for a determined fight against corruption and organized crime. This deserves recognition and support. This path must be followed resolutely, thus not back-warding the reform process.

Even Portugal, the holder of the Presidency of the European Union in the January-June 2021 mandate, also affirmed the pro-Albania position towards the European Union.

Portugal supports the First Intergovernmental Conference with Albania, as soon as possible, following the adoption of Negotiating Framework by the Council.’ – was stated in the response.

Bulgaria, which has vetoed North Macedonia since December 2020, has also been asked by ‘Faktoje” about the continuation of North Macedonia on the way to attending the Roundtable of the First Intergovernmental Conference together with Albania.

Bulgaria has always been sincere friend and sustainable partner to Albania and have consistently supported it’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration. Lead by the key principle of own merits of each candidate country, Bulgaria stands ready to support the adoption of the Negotiating Framework for Albania and holding the first IGC as soon as possible’ – confirmed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria.

Response of Bulgaria

Positive answers were also given by two countries previously being sceptical and even opposing the Albania’s path joining EU, such as the Netherlands and Denmark.

In June 2021, the Netherlands concluded that Albania had met all the conditions set by the Council in March 2020. Therefore, Netherlands agreed on holding the first Intergovernmental Conference with Albania. Albania has really done all its homework!’ – was stated in the response of Netherlands.

Even Denmark responded almost alike.

Last year, the Commission presented its report regarding Albania’s fulfilment of the conditions, which were set in March 2020. Denmark was very satisfied that the report was positive. We therefore fully support opening accession negotiations with Albania. We also hope that this can happen soon’.

Answer

Official answer of Denmark Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Even other European Union Member State Countries responded positively and welcomed the holding of the First Intergovernmental Conference from Albania as soon as possible aiming to advance the integration process to the European Union.

Gledis Gjipali, Head of the European Movement in Albania and expert on integration issues argues:

Albania has done its homework to hold the Intergovernmental Conference which eventually opens the negotiations. The conditions set for this step have been met, but there are still many other tasks to accomplish in order to advance the process’ .

The expert of international affairs from the Institute for Democracy and Mediation, Mr. Alban Dafa, says that the blame for Albania’s stagnant EU integration is two-folded.

‘Since 2016, ‘homework’, i.e. the criteria that must be met before overcoming the numerous accession obstacles, have been constantly changing. These changes have occurred partly due to the tendency of EU Member States to slow down the process of ‘union’ enlargement and partly due to political games and lack of clear will of Albanian political leaders to carry out the reforms for which they pledge.’  – says Dafa.

Accession negotiations with Albania were opened on 24 March 2020 and that would have been followed by the arrangement of the First Intergovernmental Roundtable which would define the negotiating framework. This would also mark even the concrete formal step towards integration. Bulgaria vetoed the opening of negotiations between North Macedonia and European Union over past problems, which led to a stagnant process. European Commission Official and representatives of EU Member States stated that both countries should have a joint integration path, affirming in some way that as long as Bulgaria and North Macedonia will not find a solution, Albania will also suffer the consequences.