Published on : 14 July 2017

Trieste Summit, Albania's Benefits in the Berlin Process

Prime Minister Edi Rama's press conference:

 

We are here to say a few words about an important moment of this period, such as the Trieste Summit, and to give some information which, I believe, matter to public opinion considering also that the media have reported about the Summit in general terms without going into the main elements of the content.

Of course, the fundamental aspect of the Berlin Process remains in the political plan, as a plan where the progress made was unimaginable until before this Process was initiated by the Chancellor, and thanks to this progress the meeting of the leaders of the region is nothing of extraordinary, but it is a routine as it should normally be, and on the other hand also because we are living in an historic stage in the development of the region where the political will to advance either the individual European agenda of each country or the regional cooperation agenda is at its highest level.  

Before giving the floor to Majlinda, who follows the process from the Prime Ministry in her capacity of director of a special department for everything related to foreign assistance, strategic assistance planning and special donor-related programs, I want to underline the importance of a step taken in this Summit for the organization of a joint regional market.

By rejecting all the ridiculous controversies to this project, to underline what is essentially the simple truth of the project: an increase in our capacity as countries in the region to have a much larger market than our small markets; an increase in exporting and importing capacities within the region by removing non-tariff barriers, and an increase in terms of preparing the region for joining the common European market.

So I believe it is useless to waste time and energy on every sort of nonsense we have heard about this project. The project is essentially a European project, and it supports fundamentally and fully the European spirit of cooperation and interaction. It is not absolutely an alternative solution, but it is a complementary attempt to integrate our countries and the region into the European Union. There’s no bigger nonsense, to be identified as the culmination of foolishness in the interpretation of this project, than the nonsense of the re-creation of Yugoslavia.

What matters is that we are taking steps forward in a comprehensive process of cooperation and interaction among the countries of the region, something that until before the beginning of the Berlin Process was unthinkable could take place in such a short period of time. Also, through these steps we are developing in a fully complementary way with the EU integration agenda, a regional agenda, similar to the agendas previously developed among the neighbours of today's European Union. 

The traces or continuity of this kind of cooperation in certain regions of Europe are tangible and evident even to this day to anyone who is willing to understand and learn, without saying the last word first and without talking nonsense, as it has become customary in our political hamlet and in our media hamlet as well.

Majlinda will provide more relevant information regarding other aspects of the process related to the pillars of the program of this process, and to the projects under these pillars.

 

Majlinda Dhuka, Director of the Department of Development and Foreign assistance:

 

Thank you Prime Minister!

The focus of this summit was the regional economic zone and the economic agenda among the countries. In addition to the regional economic zone and the economic agenda, the Berlin process supports the six Western Balkans countries as well as what is known as the connectivity agenda or regional interconnection.

This agenda contains a number of projects of strategic importance among the Western Balkan countries, aimed at linking Western Balkan countries with each other and also with the European Union.

The focus is mainly on transport projects, but also on energy interconnection. A special emphasis has been placed on the dialogue between countries, but also on the Summit Roundtable regarding digital connectivity and the digital market.

The Berlin process provides countries with a financing instrument which is the investment instrument of the Western Balkans where countries have access to support from the European Commission with grants and co-operation with other financial institutions such as development banks, with loans.

In this process Albania has been, of course, one of the most active countries. Albania has moved from the fourth place two years ago, to the second place in 2016-2017, regarding the application and absorption of funds provided by the Western Balkans instrument.

Albania is ranked second, after Serbia, with 36% of the funds, and it ranked first in the last call of the Western Balkans instrument supporting the preparation with technical assistance to some important country projects.

Albania obtained support for the preparations of 4 projects which I will briefly mention, as well as for a regional project, so for a total of 5 projects, followed by the second country with two projects.

The 5 projects which received support from the Western Balkans Investment Instrument for Albania to prepare, are:

The reconstruction of the quays 1 and 2 in the port of Durres;

The construction of the by-pass of Lezha;

Support for the development of Skavica hydropower plant, one of the largest energy works of the country and of the Western Balkans;

Development of entrepreneurship and cross-border tourism in the Lake of Shkodra, as well as of business infrastructure;

The regional energy sector project for the transmission line with the TSO.

As I explained, in this call Albania was ranked first with 4 projects, or approximately 3.33 million euros, Bosnia and Herzegovina, second with two projects, and so on and so forth the other countries.

Thank you!

 

Prime Minister Edi Rama: What should be considered in essence from what has been developed so far in this Process, is that the process has taken the necessary European time to prepare all the necessary projects for the implementation of the entire interconnectivity agenda, or connectivity as it is called.

Meanwhile steps forward have been taken with regard to the financing of the feasibility project for the Blue Corridor, which is a major infrastructure project where Albania has a substantial part, and which will eventually connect the south of Croatia, Montenegro and Albania with what is called the Mediterranean Tourist Ring.

Also, we are at the stage of moving towards the implementation of the interconnection line with Macedonia. The tender for the first modern rail segment, Tirana-Durres, will be launched soon. This segment includes the Rinas Airport and a number of other projects, which are now in the final preparation stage.

Meanwhile, for the projects underlined by Majlinda, their funding has been ensured, and then we will move to the next stage which is the financing of the realization of these projects. These are the European times, and everything goes according to all the standards and procedures the European Union has in the implementation of projects, which vary from 3 to 5 or 7 years, according to the size of the project.

I believe we are in the right direction. Just as I believe that with the launch of the Albanian Government "1 Billion for Reconstruction" program, which begins this fall with the Arber Highway and continues with a number of other important strategic infrastructure segments, down to the Delvinë-Kardhiq connecting road which creates a new connectivity across the south, along with the projects in the north, from Lezha to Shkodra, through the connection of the Shëngjin beach with that of Velipoja and many others, we will have a significant transformation and a very important financial injection in the economy in the next 4 years.

Of course it is not just about road infrastructure. It is also about school infrastructure. The program has started with the project of the Municipality of Tirana for the construction of 20 new schools. It will continue with the other municipalities, and the goal is that we meet the objective of building 100 new schools within 4 years, and then reconstruct all existing schools which need intervention.  

We are also at the stage of finalizing the procedures for the project of the new regional hospital in Fier, which will be the first hospital of excellence to be built from the foundations in the Republic of Albania, with fully European standards not only from the point of view of infrastructure, but also from a management point of view.

All of these are an optimistic framework, also in view of our ambition to increase the economy over 5% within the new mandate, thus allowing the impact of economic growth to be felt in every category of the population.

 

You answered the sceptical ones about the regional economic zone just now, but in the article you wrote for the Wall Street Journal, you admit there are some sceptical people about this project in the region. Do you think that you have been able to persuade them after the Summit?

Prime Minister Edi Rama: It is normal and healthy to have scepticism. The important thing is that the project has been approved. Above all, what is important is that we interact to facilitate trade relations among our countries, for this is the essence. So the essence is how to make every company operating in this market, have an open way to operate without being forced to pass through so many non-tariff barriers, and without being obliged to get 7 pairs of documents for the same thing, but to have a unified market. This is for the benefit of the economy, it is for the benefit of all entrepreneurship, and it is for the public benefit. It has nothing to do with the nonsense of those who have a Titoism nostalgia.

 

I believe you know that in Albania, at least until the moment of this conference, the symbol of the Trieste Summit was your sneakers. I don’t know how they were commented over there, but people here commented even that it was "disrespect for the nation". Do you have any answers to these comments?

Prime Minister Edi Rama: I don’t. It is a world where people have dealt long ago with the issue of the freedom of clothing as a fundamental human right, and don’t deal with this aspect. So, I don’t intend to deal with those who keep living in the time of “foreign phenomena”, in the time of the old Sali.

 

Shortly after the appointment of the technical ministers, you committed before the Albanians that on June 26, the day after the election, the technical ministers would be dismissed. 18 days have passed since June 26, and they are still in government, doing their job, making decisions, with you. How will you deal with them?

Prime Minister Edi Rama: First, let’s be correct, and this is your duty, with due regard for your profession. I did not commit to dismiss them. I said that they would leave. I did not say I will dismiss them. I expect them to leave because they have no reason to stay. Their mission is over, and I expect them to leave.

 

With regard to the process of opening negotiations, is it possible that we will be able to open the negotiations in the coming year, therefore, make the next step towards the integration, and in order for this to happen, what is Albania still supposed to fulfil?

Prime Minister Edi Rama: Albania has met everything it has been requested to meet. The commission has made the recommendation. It has requested the opening of negotiations with the understanding that the Vetting process will begin. The Vetting process has started, as you know, so, as far as we are concerned, we have carried out our duties. Even the elections that just ended, have been considered a success story. So it's up to the European Union to keep its word. We did our homework.

The European Union can continue to do what it usually does when it seeks to look at the finger, while the finger points to the moon and releases new things. It has done it also with other countries. It does it for political reasons, because of the internal dynamics that are known. But we are ready to open the negotiations, we have carried out all the tasks given to us for the opening of the negotiations. If the European Union is to postpone them again, this will not prevent us from persisting in the process, because, as I have repeatedly underlined, for us the integration process is not a trip to Brussels, it is a journey to build European Albania here in our homeland. This is the fundamental value of the process.

Obviously, the opening of negotiations would be a strong incentive. But with negotiations, without negotiation, as we did a Reform in Justice which, for your curiosity, is expected to be done also in the countries that are negotiating, we will keep going. Negotiations start with chapters 23 and 24, which are the chapters of justice, and you should know that in the chapters of justice, when we begin negotiations, we would have practically done most of the work, which we have already done. While some countries in the region, which are already negotiation, still have to do the justice reform we have already done. These are the paradoxes of the European Union, but there is no problem. We coexist in peace with these paradoxes.

 

Mr Prime Minister, during the campaign you made a statement for which you apologized. It was the statement about the policemen in the campaign. Do you think this "list" issue is one of those cases when you have to apologize again? If you allow me, I can tell you what makes me ask for this. You have stated that for 4 years you have been often accused of things you have never done, only because “something remains even out of a slander”. I believe we agree on this. Today, you clarified from Librazhd that these were charges, names thrown out to the public by people with real profiles, but admitted that some were also false profiles. Do you think that, considering the room you have on your online channel, you gave way, you gave room exactly to the denigration of the figure of others, to libel without facts about unverified things?

Prime Minister Edi Rama: There is no list published by me. It doesn’t exist. The names published in that summary are part of a report mechanically made by the team of the annotations for the followers of the posts on my page. None of the persons who are there, are either in the charge or part of a list related to any stance, any opinion, and any assessment on my part, either by the government or the state, and neither is this list a basis for any administrative procedure. It's just a faithful compilation of comments made on the same page. So, the names are not invented, they are not taken from other sources. They are simply collected from the comments. It is a summary of the comments by the people who have followed the post, and all this weight it really doesn’t have, was given by you, and also by those who want to make opposition politics and don’t know what opposition politics to do. As far as I’m concerned, this is only nonsense.  

 

Does the Prime Minister feel that he may have done this deliberately or inadvertently?

Prime Minister Edi Rama: The Prime Minister hasn’t made any summary. I haven’t made any summary.

 

But, Mr Rama, you’ve made room for a summary that might contain some truths, but also some slanders.

Prime Minister Edi Rama: I haven’t made any summary. I’m telling you once again, it is a report made by the team of annotations, which I read just like you did when it was published. It's very easy. The “touch me not” flowers should not be affected at all because they have not seen anything yet. Be assured of this.

We are building a hellish mechanism for all those who are paid with the taxes of the Albanians, and instead of serving the Albanians, rob them or humiliate them with improper behaviour. This hellish mechanism will be neither a digital hell nor a hell of anonymous digital prosecutors and judges, but it will be a legal, democratic and transparent mechanism of our coalition with average people.

The coalition platform will be online at the moment of the creation of the new government. All those who want to join me and us to fight the parasites and predators in the state offices, will be invited to become real members of the ruling coalition. For us, the opposition is the parasites and predators in state offices in the next 4 years. The opposition in parliament has its own tasks, it can choose and does whatever it wants. They are neither our foes nor our opponents. They are competitors. While the publicly announced enemies will be the parasites and predators in the state offices.

 

Mr Prime Minister, let’s stop a moment at the coalition you mentioned, with simple citizens.

Prime Minister Edi Rama: I don’t say “simple citizens”. Citizens are all alike. When you say citizens, they’re all alike. There are no simple and complicated citizens. I say average citizen. It’s important that you learn to quote people correctly.

 

Don’t you believe that with the average people, precisely this coalition, you are bypassing somehow what is called the represented governance, by moving directly to the citizens? Aren’t you bypassing the institutions?

Prime Minister Edi Rama: No, I don’t think so. This is another nonsense. 

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