Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met his Albanian counterpart Ditmir Bushati at the Federal Foreign Office on Tuesday (22 November). Items on the agenda included the reform efforts in Albania and regional cooperation in the Western Balkans.
Only five months ago, the situation in Tirana looked very different. During his last visit to the Albanian capital in June, Foreign Minister Steinmeier found a country that was struggling with domestic turbulence. The reforms necessary to advance along the path towards the European Union were encountering resistance from the Albanian Parliament. Progress in moving closer to the EU therefore seemed difficult to achieve.
Yet the Albanian Government’s energetic efforts have been worthwhile: eventually the particularly crucial judicial reforms were adopted by the Parliament in Tirana, and six implementation laws were passed.
Reform efforts are worthwhile
“I am happy to pledge our continued support for the reform process,” Steinmeier said after today’s meeting with his Albanian counterpart Bushati.
Albania has been an official EU accession country since June 2014. A Stabilisation and Association Agreement between Albania and the EU has been in force since 2009. In its most recent report, published at the beginning of the month, the European Commission praised the country’s progress on many reform projects. Important areas of reform include administration and justice as well as tackling corruption and organised crime. “We are very grateful for Germany’s support during the reform process,” Albanian Foreign Minister Bushati declared.
Advisor on the Western Balkans
Albania has become an important partner for Germany in the Balkans. “Although many people would not have expected it a few years ago, Albania has developed into a true anchor of stability in the Western Balkans,” Steinmeier explained. He went on to say that his counterpart Bushati had become an important advisor for him with regard to developments in the region. In just a few weeks the ministers will have another opportunity to exchange views: on 8 December, Ditmir Bushati will be travelling to Hamburg for the OSCE Foreign Ministers Meeting.