Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Gent Cakaj described the European Commission’s progress report as a positive message for the entire Western Balkans, saying “this time the report shows that Albania has continued a progressive trend of meeting all the prerequisites”.
In a television interview, Cakaj stressed that “the European Commission’s communication is important for several reasons. Firstly, it is a positive message for the whole of the Western Balkans, as in addition to reaffirming support for the EU enlargement process, a multimillion-dollar investment plan has been presented, which will benefit all the countries of the Western Balkans in significant amounts in financing significant projects, critical in infrastructure, energy and more”.
Asked how much Albania would benefit from the EU, Cakaj said he had information on the amount, but that it would be published tomorrow by Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhleyi.
“I know the amount, but we are waiting for the Commissioner to say it tomorrow”, Cakaj said.
Minister Cakaj further stressed that “the EU has played an important role in supporting the process of socio-economic recovery, which under the conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic has increased. The economic side is important because the EU is accompanying the political enlargement process with numerous financial instruments that are helping to transform the region as a whole.
On the other hand, Cakaj continued, there is also positive news for Albania, although it is confirmed once again that Albania has made significant and steady progress on its European agenda. The issue of the Constitutional Court, which is still in the process of being filled by the judges required, has been left out.
“Indeed, for all the other priorities as presented in the March 2020 Council conclusions, Albania has met all the necessary conditions and in addition has all the technical capacity to organize the intergovernmental conference”, Cakaj said.
Asked if there was a date for the Intergovernmental Conference, Cakaj said: “December is a possible date, but it is not a safe date for many reasons. Experience in the EU has taught me to avoid giving dates, because since June 2018 we have had a number of dates and, due to various circumstances, they have not always been implemented”.
“But this is another matter, we have to meet all the conditions and based on their fulfillment we expect to have the first intergovernmental conference in December”, Cakaj said.
Minister Cakaj also said that “the European Commission confirms that Albania has already begun to show results in launching investigations into high-ranking officials, special judges and prosecutors who did not pass the audit because they found against them evidence of criminal activity. Also, in the fight against organized crime and corruption, the numbers are generally positive, ranging from the war waged during the disbandment of drug cultivation, to the recent operations of the Operational Force of Law (OFL).
Asked about the idea of restoring the visa regime, Cakaj said that “the need for this authorization is not necessarily the need for approval only for those traveling as citizens of the Republic of Albania, it is really a new EU process in the service of increase internal security and strengthening of the borders in general”.
“It is not about returning visas or filling out visa forms at all, but only about filling out an online form, which will create a travel permit in a matter of minutes”, Cakaj said.
He added that this is a practice that will include a long list of different states, including the United States, Canada, Australia, etc./ibna