Accession negotiations and the EU decision on October 18

Communication by Prime Minister Edi Rama on EU accession talks with Albania and the expected European Council decision on October 18:

Hello!

An intense debate within the European Union over a previously agreed decision over Albania and North Macedonia goes on. It is already publicly known what I have also shared with you over all these days, the overwhelming majority of the EM Member States want the immediate and unconditional opening of the accession negotiations with both countries, Albania and North Macedonia. Germany, the country that leads the “Yes” front today, has taken a different position from that of many EU member states. Germany’s “Yes” was bound by several conditions, which are reasonable to us and not insignificant to approach France and the two or three countries that still keep an unfavorable position on our expectations. However, France and those two or three countries have yet to make a final decision and just like it is most likely that they stick to their position to the end, it is not completely impossible that they accept a compromise agreement.

From day one since his election to office, the President of France has publicly outlined a vision and approach to a deep reform in the Union before proceeding with the EU new expansion. Emanuel Macron is not ready to push any harder the European integration of the Western Balkans without pushing first for the reform of the Union itself. This France’s approach is conceptually incompatible with the traditional approach that characterizes the “YES” front for opening negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. But it is important to understand that this is absolutely not an approach against Albania and North Macedonia or the prospect of the Western Balkans as a whole.

Nothing can be ruled out until the last minute, however, in the meantime nobody should forget how many hot potatoes are on the European Union’s table over these days, from the BREXIT to the latest developments from the Syrian war front, all due to be discussed exactly on the very same day, October 18.

However, the final word has yet to be said and the intense efforts over these days prior to the meeting of the Council of the European Union, where the decision will be made, are aimed at reconciling the positions of both sides in anticipation of a result of the key talks between Germany and France. I believe you all know that decisions in the Council are made by consensus. If a single member state says “No” it would suffice to bring down the “YES” of all others in unison. I don’t know today – nobody actually knows – how this odyssey will end on October 18th. But here’s what I know for sure and I would like to share with you all today.

First, beyond any speculations, lies, and nonsenses about domestic political consumption in Albania, the October 18 decision has nothing to do with what we have done or failed to do in order to deserve the “Yes”. As true as it is, this would exactly be the case should two already EU member states were in the position of both Albania and North Macedonia today. Their situation would have been identically the same, without the slightest difference. Secondly, the decision is essentially related to what they want or the Union members internally don’t want to do with the EU reform and the negotiation methodology with the candidate countries and whether they will be able to agree among themselves on the fact that whatever EU reform is, it should not prevent Albania, North Macedonia and the Western Balkans countries from continuing their reforms in general, thanks to the negotiations process.

Thirdly, we have succeeded in doing more than just homework, for which the Commission has recommended the Council to open the accession negotiations unconditionally, because through the power of diplomacy and thanks to the strong relations of respect and trust we have established in Berlin, we have succeeded in overcoming the high obstacle raised in the Bundestag, also because of the political anti-negotiations plan that was implemented by the extra-parliamentary opposition from January through end of June. Thanks to the intense and sincere communication also with important and influential CDU/CSU factors and thanks to their support for Albania, Bundestag said “Yes” to Albania and Germany is today our great advocate in this extremely complicated process.

In the next few days, we will learn about the conclusion of this difficult chapter of history and our quest to become part of the European Union. But, whatever the outcome the day after the European Council’s meeting, sun will rise again and the day will be a natural continuation of this historic European state0building effort on the path towards Europe and the European Albania we want for our children and not for Brussels, not for Paris, not for the European Union, but for Albania, Albanians and the future generations.