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Soreca: Negotiating framework for Albania has been accepted; still more work to be done

EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca, in an interview with Deutsche Welle, commented on the process of commencing negotiations for Albania. Asked about the organization of the first EU-Albania Intergovernmental Conference, Soreca said that “the text of the negotiating framework for Albania has been accepted by all”.

“I think the General Council sent a very strong message that the work must continue for both countries until the very last day of the German Presidency’s term. For both Albania and North Macedonia, the Member States are ready to adopt what we call the negotiating framework. These are the rules of the game for both countries for the next few years, until negotiations begin”. Soreca said.

As he said, one of the Member States has unfortunately blocked this approval for North Macedonia, while the text of the negotiating framework for Albania has been accepted by all.

“Therefore, if a solution to the bilateral dispute over North Macedonia is found, then the two negotiating frameworks can be approved before the end of the year. This is the goal of the German Presidency, this is the goal of the European Union. The convening of the Intergovernmental Conference is yet another issue, the convening of the Intergovernmental Conference is conditional to the approval of the negotiating framework”,  he said.

Soreca added that “several conditions have been met for the convening of the Intergovernmental Conference on Albania, as you have known since March this year”.’

‘There are some things that still need to be done, and that is clear; this is why I say the message is that work must continue’. This is what Commissioner Varheliy said to Secretary Roth at yesterday meeting”, Soreca said.

“What work needs to be done to continue?” First, as you mentioned, the Constitutional Court. In recent weeks, I have called on the Judicial Appointments Council several times to speed up the work of evaluating and ranking candidates in the three vacancies. The implementation of the electoral law was also mentioned. I think this issue has two sub-elements, one is the opinion of the Venice Commission, which, as you know, will be published on 10 December and will help clarify the issue on which there are political differences between the government and the main opposition. The issue was raised by the President, as you know”, Soreca said.

“Next is the specific application of the electoral law in view of the elections, which will be held on April 25. This is also important in terms of technical preparations. I recently met with the head of the Central Election Commission and I am also pleased to announce that the two experts promised by the European Union in approving the June 5 Agreement have started working with the Biometric Identification Committee, which is one of the very important conclusions of the 5 June agreement. So these things need to be developed, they need to be accelerated. Let’s see where we are by the end of the year before the end of the German Presidency. And that is the message that comes out of yesterday’s meeting, in my opinion, and we fully support it”, he said.

Asked about the parliamentary elections to be held in April 2021 and whether this political climate constitutes another punishment for this process, Soreca said, “Yes, indeed, the climate has recently risen in terms of ‘temperature’, but this is normal, I think, in any country, before the elections, which are so important for Albania”.

“The European Commission, in its annual report published on October 6, states that the political dialogue in the country must be restored. This means that in the run-up to the elections, we hope, the parties, while certainly pursuing their own political interests, which embody of course the essence of democracy, will also focus on what I call the common minimum denominator, which everyone agrees on, that is EU integration. Let us focus and ensure that, when it comes to EU membership, each side can find a way to help Albania move forward. Of course, divisions are natural and in Albania this is definitely a trend, but I, as EU ambassador, want to call on everyone to focus on the common minimum denominator, which is the EU membership”, he said.

Soreca added, “Justice reform is very difficult, it is complicated. I know the judiciary, I know what it means to change the way the judiciary works in a country. It is very close to the sovereignty of a country. It takes time, maybe more than I expected. Now is not the time to retrograde, but to push forward and strengthen the available resources to accelerate the pace”.

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