Albania is the third stop on Foreign Minister Heiko Maas’s visit to the Western Balkans. His political talks will focus on the country’s internal reform path and prospects for accession to the EU.
Germany supports Albania on its path to closer relations with the EU. In Tirana, Maas is meeting Prime Minister Edi Rama, Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, representatives of the Vetting Commission and opposition leader Lulzim Basha.
Albanian Government aims for EU membership
The Albanian Government’s express aims are to move closer to EU membership and to implement the reforms needed for this. Many reforms have already been carried out. Albania was granted EU candidate status in 2014. Since being re elected in 2017, the Government led by Prime Minister Edi Rama has stepped up its reform efforts, particularly as regards judicial reform. Among other things, it has set up a commission to vet all judges and public prosecutors. “The reforms achieved in Albania in recent years were a very impressive political effort that required courage and determination,” Maas said in Tirana. “The country can be proud of this.”
Albania needs to make further progress in order to be recommended for accession negotiations. This applies in particular to judicial reform and the fight against organised crime and corruption. If such progress is made, the EU has indicated that accession negotiations could start in 2019.
Germany supports the reform path
Germany is providing Albania with concrete support in the reforms needed on the path to EU accession. For example, German experts are advising the Albanian police in the fight against organised crime, while experts from the Federal Ministry of the Interior are helping to carry out projects, such as judicial reform, in the public authorities. As young people will play a crucial role in Albania’s further development, Germany is also investing in programmes to improve vocational training in the country and providing funding to the Western Balkans’ Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO).