April 13. 2024. 5:04

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Albanian PM to meet Scholz, Berlin process on agenda

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama is set to meet for a ‘head-to-head’ meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, where the Berlin process and Albania’s EU accession will be high on the agenda.

Germany and Albania have long had good relations, and Rama was particularly close to Sholz’s predecessor Angela Merkel. Albania formally started the EU accession process in the summer of 2022.

Asides from discussing Albania’s EU path, the two leaders are expected to talk about tourism, including a tourism fair to be held in Berlin, which will showcase Albanian tourist destinations.

When asked on Monday when he thinks Albania will join the EU, Rama said the process will depend on how quickly the country can progress through each negotiation chapter.

“In the whole integration process, one way is the way of Brussels and the interaction of working groups, and the other way is to support this process through bilateral meetings to get the necessary experience and knowledge,” he said.

Rama added that it would mainly depend on Albania being good learners and learning quickly as if this is not the case “it will backfire on us in the end”.

“If we are good learners and learn quickly, this will speed up the process. But it will also depend on the decision of the European Union, which is not only technical but also political. I think you can’t ask for a license when you don’t know how to give a car, because it will backfire on us in the end. This process is for our future generations and we have to do it right even though it may take a lot more time,” he said.

In an exclusive interview with EURACTIV in December, Rama said candidate countries should not treat satisfying EU accession criteria like cheating on a test, naming a “neighbouring country”, which, when pressed, he said was “Greece”.

The comments soon went viral across Greece, and the Albanian prime minister addressed the issue during a bilateral meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the EU-Western Balkan Summit in Tirana.

“I’m sorry for something I heard, that I said some strange things about Greece, about how it achieved some things – we’ll go back to the time of Troy perhaps – but it’s not something that concerns the present, and it didn’t in any way concern today’s Greece,” he said.

“We should not forget that the integration process is an individual-based, merit-based process. We have to fulfil homework criteria standards. And it’s not an exam to be cheated,” he also said in the interview.

He added that Greece had “Got money from Europe, lived a period of opulence, and then ended really bad.”

Prior to flying to Germany, Rama welcomed Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in Tirana. She spoke of tensions in the region and the need for progression towards the EU.

“We should all be aware of the very fragile situation of the countries of the Western Balkans. I think that your commitment to European values ​​is important and this is also a very strong part of opening negotiations for Albania’s EU membership. I know that it is quite a big job and it requires many solutions, many reforms, but I know that you have the capacity to do this and we strongly support you in your journey and direction,” said Frederiksen.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)