Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, visited Tirana on 11 and 12 May, where he held talks with Prime Minister Edi Rama, Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati, Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj, opposition leader Lulzim Basha, members of the Vetting Commissions and the International Monitoring Operation, which is supervising the vetting process, representatives of civil society and EU activists.
The Minister of State’s visit took place against the background of the European Commission’s recommendation on 17 April that accession negotiations be launched with Albania. The German Government and German Bundestag will draw up a joint position on this in the coming weeks.
The talks in Tirana thus focused on Albania’s path towards EU accession and the implementation of further reforms.
Roth praised the reforms that have been achieved so far, but also underlined that more resolute action was still needed as regards the rule of law and the fight against organised crime and corruption.
After returning to Berlin, Minister of State Roth said:
Germany firmly supports Albania on its path towards EU accession. The prospect of accession is and will remain the most important motive for reform. The people of Albania must now continue to pursue the path to reform with determination.
The country has made significant progress on important reforms in recent months, such as the comprehensive judicial reform and in this context particularly as regards vetting, that is, the systematic assessment of judges and public prosecutors. This process, which is being monitored by international observers, is producing concrete results and is an important step in the fight against corruption and organised crime.
Naturally, it is first and foremost the task of the Albanian Government to drive the reform agenda forward. However, it is not only the Government’s task. It is also the duty of the opposition to play a constructive role and to improve conditions as regards the rule of law and the fight against corruption and crime. I also made this clear in my meeting with opposition leader Lulzim Basha.
Civil society has a particularly important part to play in supporting Albania on its path to EU accession. That is why everyone – the Government, opposition and civil society – must do their utmost to support this. I was very impressed by the dedicated NGO staff whom I met in Tirana. They show that young people are Europe’s strongest advocates. They should be actively included in the process.