Albanian president Ilir Meta has told Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva that his country relies heavily on Bulgaria and its appreciates its efforts towards the enlargement of the EU into the Western Balkans, “and we want to write our homework in the best possible way”.
This is according to a July 26 statement by the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry during Zaharieva’s visit to Tirana, part of a tour she is undertaking of Balkan capitals to discuss Bulgaria’s priorities for its presidency of the EU in 2018.
Zaharieva told Meta that she was to glad to be the first EU minister to hold talks with him after his inauguration. Meta took the oath of office on July 24.
Zaharieva said that relations between Bulgaria and Albania are excellent, political dialogue is being conducted at all levels and the countries’ politicians have to work to increase economic links.
“The priority of our presidency of the Council of the EU is the enlargement of the Western Balkans and not only in words,” she said. “A great chance for the whole region is that within two years the Union will be chaired by four states that support the enlargement – Bulgaria, Austria, Estonia and Romania. ”
Zaharieva said that reforms are worthwhile, noting that EU membership has had a direct effect on Bulgaria’s income, infrastructure and financial growth.
Meta confirmed that he had seen a major change during his most recent visit to Sofia, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry statement said.
Zaharieva said that some of the criteria that Albania should cover relate to the rule of law, administrative reform, the fight against organized crime, and human rights.
In this regard, she also raised the issue of the recognition of the Bulgarian minority in Albania.
Despite a resolution of the European Parliament calling for it, the Bulgarian minority is not mentioned in the draft government bill to be submitted to Albania’s parliament:
“We have a common history and we think that our minority can be a bridge between our two countries,” Zaharieva said. Meta pledged to follow the bill in parliament and to promote a flexible solution, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said./IBNA