Presentation of Chief Negotiator for Albania’s Accession to EU, Ambassador Zef Mazi

Presentation of Chief Negotiator for Albania’s Accession to EU, Ambassador Zef Mazi:

Prime Minister Edi Rama: Hello everyone! First of all, allow me to thank the Ambassador, Mr. Soreca, for attending this event and, at this crucial moment, allow me to thank him not only for attending and the time he so generously dedicates us today, but also for the commitment and the work of the Delegation of the European Union to Albania.

I avail myself of this opportunity to reiterate that happy is anyone involved in this process to the best interest of the future generations and woe to those who are going to deal with the Delegation and the European Union when governing the country, because there could be no more heartless and more scrupulous machinery when it comes to monitoring and overseeing the facts and addressing various problems, despite the openly stated and undeniable love between Europe and Albania, Albania and Europe. However, this is a love coming at high cost of energies, nerves and work, exactly the way it should actually be. The (European) Commission is the guarantor of progress, both in terms of direct assistance through its roadmap, which is a great experience accumulated over the years and a mechanism individually irreplaceable by any of the countries seeking to become a EU member, even through strict monitoring and close supervision of the progress.

History of our ties with the EU is a long one, dating much earlier than the major progressive forces and great European visionary leaders who gave birth the European Union and today it is a history on the path towards materialization of a centuries-old dream of Albanians to belong to Europe as the only space where Albanians are guaranteed to self-determine their own destiny, based on values and principles all freedom-loving peoples and individuals embrace and the only space where their destiny is not decided by third powers, as it has often been the case in our history.

Today we are preparing for a historic event, the first Inter-governmental Conference. Based on the Council’s decision, Albania has been given the green light to start the accession negotiations and we have delivered on the obligation to pick the country’s chief negotiator whom I am very pleased to introduce and be honoured to have him completely coincidentally sitting here on my left, but who embodies best tradition of the Albanian diplomacy, neither siding with the left nor with the right, but straightforwardly serving national interests and the Albanian states, despite the government in office that replace each other, as it naturally happens in democracy.

I have curiously looked at the experience of other countries and I would simply like to share with you some facts you could find interesting enough.

Serbia chose political scientist involved in pedagogy and educational science for a long time, as well an experienced expert at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the country’s chief negotiator.

Montenegro trusted this position to an expert in agricultural sciences with great experience in drafting international projects.

North Macedonia is likely to grant this role to a prominent civil society activist and an internationally renowned lawyer.

Earlier, Croatia, the country best representing the Balkan-European symbiosis, picked a deputy minister of economy to successfully complete the EU accession negotiations.

While we have preferred to gamble, an expression probably not the most appropriate one to say, since this is not a match with an unknown end. This is simply a match whose duration is unknown and our main challenge is to shorten it as much as possible. It is a match involving all its inherited problems that need to be addressed through reforms designed to transform the country into a EU member – a diplomat with somehow special background in Albanian diplomacy, Ambassador Zef Mazi, who has served Albanian state for many years and who has also served in various international bodies. He is more than just a diplomat, because thanks to his contribution to the International Atomic Energy Agency and his contribution toward formulation of long-time policies for a safer world, he belongs to the not so small group of Albanians in today’s world and he somehow represents the two sides of a coin of the past 30 years; the side of the coin speaking about his service to the country and the other side of the coin speaking about making available his experience and intellectual capacities to the efforts for a safer and better world and to leading international institutions and organizations.

I wouldn’t further dwell on rich professional biography of Ambassador Mazi, who I don’t know whether he likes it or not being reminded of the fact that at a certain moment he was considered by the political parties as a potential candidate for the post of the President of our Republic, which I think is worth highlighting as an example that the Ambassador enjoys respect of all political parties that have governed this country. This is an important element in the chief negotiator’s profile. We are pretty aware that the chief negotiator is an individual and an institutional figure that should enjoy the reference of all parties. This is a process where the parties should not be satisfied by simply expressing commitment to Europe, but they should find strength, courage and readiness to interact with each other despite the normal political battle and, unfortunately, the conflicts politics create in Albania.

In addition to the media representatives, the coordinators of the integration network have been also invited to this event, because this is an inter-institutional and inter-ministerial process, practically involving all central and relevant institutions of the country and where the country’s greatest contract with the EU in every area is discussed. This presents a special challenge, a major challenge to the chief negotiator, who on one hand will represent our team in negotiating with the EU team, but on the other hand he will have to build a team spirit, a team discipline, and create the conditions so that coordinators fully dedicate themselves to this process and not consider it a kind of a second job, because the majority of them serve as deputy ministers and others serve in various official positions, but as soon as this team is created, the process is our top priority and it shouldn’t be seen as a secondary or a peripheral occupation or a job that can be done after the normal working hours, but an assignment or a team work where of course it is not just about the contact persons in every department or in every institution, but it is about the core of the teams in every ministry or institution that should be run, that should be coordinated and motivated precisely by all representatives of this network.

In the process of selecting the negotiating team, we have tried to pick individuals with the most suitable profile for the assignment, but starting now everyone should clearly know they are all under the direct dependence of the chief negotiator. It is him the one who will assess performance of each negotiating team member. It his him the one who will decide about involvement and participation of each of you in this important assignment, which certainly means that it is the chief negotiator the one to decide and replace anyone who would fail to catch up pace of work, fails to meet deadlines and the need to demonstrate best performance possible in this process. The assignment of this negotiating team is to maintain direct contacts with the EU Delegation, draft policies, compile methodology, reports, complete the negotiating framework in order to deliver as better and as faster as possible. Of course, the term “as fast as possible” is a relative one. We are all aware of this and the tasks concerning the chapters of the so-called acquis communautaire.

The negotiating team will be granted full support by all government capacities which will of course continue play its role in this process. The negotiating team is not an independent government. The government won’t wash its hands of this process as soon as the negotiating team is set up and once the chief negotiator is named, but the government will cooperate with this team intensively. In the meantime, I would also like to make it clear that the negotiating team has not only an influential, but also a ordering and instructing power over the government and the institutions. This means that the requirements from the negotiating team and the tasks assigned by the chief negotiator are binding ones and a top priority for any department and any cabinet member.

The experience of other countries shows that the countries succeeding in fulfilling this task better have progressed faster in this process. The countries who have made the agenda of the daily negotiating work a top government priority and not merely something written on paper, has succeeded in delivering thins more qualitatively and has achieved more success in the negotiating process. This is the case to reiterate what I have consistently stated when it comes to conditions, because Albanians should know that, of course for propaganda and political purposes and for political tactical reasons, some keep on singing the same old song of the alleged nine conditions, 12 conditions, or 15 conditions … Indeed, once this process begins, we will not face neither 15 nor 9 or four, but thousands of conditions. And I am not exaggerating. There are thousands of conditions, because there are also thousands of pages on the alignment of the national legislation and the document reports on the fulfilment of these conditions.

After all, this is not simply a legislative drafting process, but a process of daily test and law enforcement. For the Inter-governmental Conference to open today, which would represent the formal launch of the negotiations with the Albanian government and the EU sitting together in a table, the country should deliver on some conditions, which are surely not 15; the functioning of the Constitutional Court, making the Supreme Court and the National Investigation Bureau functional, and finalization of the Electoral Reform. Once the negotiations start, every ministry, every institution will be forwarded an indefinite set of conditions, because it is all about a negotiating process. And it is not a negotiation taking place between two shareholders to decide how to divide their enterprise, but a negotiation between a superpower and a micro-power and it is understandably not a negotiation between two equals. The superpower orders, whereas the micro-power obeys. It is like a teacher-student relation. It is a choice we have made not because we have been asked by Brussels, Paris or Berlin to do so, but because this is the testament of our ancestors and this is for the future of our children.

To conclude, I would like to thank the acting Minister, who has make it very easy for me just to formally have the post of the Foreign Minister for reasons everyone already knows, but he is actually doing his job much better than I would have been doing. This is not a complement and I am not exaggerating it at all, because I am not the kind of people who easily acknowledge that there are better persons than them, but I want to really wholeheartedly thank him for the incredible work he has done under heavy pressure, as this ministry certainly faces the pressure of major challenges and tasks.

I would also like to thank the Ambassador for unhesitatingly saying “Yes” to this major challenges, and I believe he honours us and crowns his career.

Chief negotiator Zef Mazi: Thank you very much Mr. Prime Minister for the big picture you made as you remarked on the accession negotiations with the EU I hope will open soon. I feel deeply moved by your remarks and acknowledgments.

In my capacity as the chief negotiator for the country’s accession to the EU, it is for me an honour to sit by your side and in front of the negotiating team, the negotiators, Ambassador Soreca and a number of colleagues from the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. The assignment and the work that lie ahead of us, as you stated, is very difficult and quite complex and that’s why feel very committed, because building contractual relations for membership with Europe is one of the most challenging tests our country faces over these 70 years of modern history of our state.

It’s a great honour! I feel a bit nostalgic today. I have to acknowledge I am today at the institution from where I embarked on a long path to my diplomatic career and that of international relations. It was precisely this institution that promoted and elevated my career. It is this institution where I came back following a decade-long career in the Publishing House, the General Directorate of Telecommunications, where I served as the foreign relations officer. After returning to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I was in charge of the relations with the OSCE (CSCE at the time) and at the same time I was a member of the Permanent Delegation of our state to negotiate with the United Kingdom about the restoration of diplomatic relations.

I would like to recall that 29 years ago tomorrow Albania became a CSCE member. Albania joined the organization at the Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Berlin. I humbly recall the compilation of the formal application letter to join the organization and I was part of the then team.

Then I served four times as head of mission of the Republic of Albania in the bilateral and multilateral relations as the country’s ambassador to these organizations, and I latter took over high-level positions in international bodies, including 10 years of service in the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, where for a seven-year period I served as special assistant of the IAEA Director General about the Agency’s strategy. It was a tough assignment as it included difficult negotiations with many member states about very sensitive issues until the today’s assignment.

It is true a number of my colleagues and friends currently work here at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a precious nucleus of very experienced ambassadors, and, as you said Mr. Prime Minister, that nucleus has been preserved despite to the cabinet changes. This actually honours our state, because  I believe anyone in this nucleus of senior ambassadors would have assumed this post and would have shown equally same commitment. Therefore, today I feel deeply moved and I would like to thank you for the trust and absolute understanding towards me and the assignment I am tasked with and I will do my best to preserve the profile of a high-level civic servant of my state and my country. This is the main objective of all stakeholders in our country.

The negotiating team I will head will act as our country’s best advocate, as a serious and collaborative partner with the European Union and its institutions.

A long path full of challenges and difficulties ad even obstacles lies ahead of us, but I think “this cannot be done” should not be our motto. Instead, we should seek ways to accomplish what we need to accomplish until we fully deliver on our obligations and conditions.

You cited thousands of pages of documents, Mr. Prime Minister. If not wrong, we will have to negotiate over 130,000 pages of the EU’s acquis communautaire and 35 chapters. Therefore, as you already said, the team is of a vital importance. The mission’s success is achieved when the team works in harmony and is fully coordinated to maintain pace of the pace of performance of tasks and requirements that this work has in store for us. We should neither slow down nor rush forward, because this is a long marathon and usually when it comes to marathons experience has taught us that he who runs fast at the start of it, he may not finish even half of the marathon. It’s a long race, but the goal is big and it’s the same.

My task as chief negotiator will be to listen, clarify, to demand, without any deviation, without any slowdown, talking to all the high levels of our state, to all the political stakeholders of our country, because this the long road needs the full support of everyone. This process needs full support of our institutions, the President of the Republic, the Speaker of Parliament, the government (which the Prime Minister emphasized, there will be the support of the government), academia, civil society and the media. In other words, the whole institutional complex of our state should fully cooperate and support this great process that lies ahead of us so that we can move forward progressively by performing the tasks we will be asked to do and making progress on timely opening and completion of each specific chapter during the negotiation accession process.

I have already discussed with the Prime Minister and work is underway to set up an academy of integration in Tirana. I understand that work has started on this proposal. The Academy will serve as a kind of an education and training centre for everyone who will be involved in the EU integration issues and where opinions and experiences will be shared, while renowned Albanian lecturers and leading international lecturers will be invited to share their experiences too.

I would like to inform you that the chief negotiator’s team will include a small number of assistants and three or four advisors, a small nucleus, because a whole network of negotiators will also work in every ministry. The vacancies for these three positions will be publicly announced on the right time to allow and offer an opportunity to everyone thinking they have the right skills and qualifications to apply. I will then very carefully examine all applications and every candidate for these positions, because this post that I will hold with much honor, needs to be advised and not to advise. It should be advisors the ones who should provide advice. Therefore, we should choose the most qualified candidates, because the success of our work is more important than individual preferences.

Before I conclude this presentation speech, I would like to emphasize the importance of the negotiating team, the work this team will do in a coordinated and proportional manner, working together to deliver on its objectives. This is the only way the negotiating team would successfully accomplish its task. As you already stated Mr. Prime Minister, I am honoured to assume such a position after years of service in senior level positions in international organizations. It has been an extremely great appreciation that an Albanian diplomat has worked in these countries and I am honored for that. But the new assignment I am tasked with today, and I have had the honor of being appointed by you, is of absolutely special importance. It is emotionally very special. I am proud because I will be working with you. I will work for my country, for my state. Thank you!

Prime Minister Edi Rama: Ambassador, since we wanted the media and journalists to be present, please.

-Mr. Rama, you said that all parties need not merely show they want Europe, but they also contribute to the process. What have you personally done to make the process a comprehensive one and here I am considering the accusations leveled by the President of the Republic, who said that the action plan unveiled at the Integration Council was drafted by the government and it didn’t include their suggestions?

Second question, just a few minutes earlier you threatened Lulzim Basha that there is only a very fine line between the agreement and the risk of tearing it up, should the opposition keep on behaving in the same way. Is the integration process also being threatened in this way given that electoral reform is one of the main conditions?

PM Edi Rama: Thank you for both questions!

First of all, I don’t respond to accusations through counter-accusations, because I believe it is your obligation to verify and I have always stated that the ping-pong of accusations and counter-accusations, statements and counter-statements are one of the main problems our society faces and when the third party is absent, then it is you the one to assume this role. And by you I mean the media role. The action plan has not been written by the government. Of course, it is the government that gathers the contribution of everyone, but, to inform everyone, I would like to clarify that this is a plan that has been written through an intense communication with those who accompany us in this process and who oversee this process. In this case, I am pleased that they welcome the plan as realistic and just one. The accusations or the claims stemming from the political agendas are completely something else and they have nothing to do with this institution and this event.

As far as the second question is concerned, you mentioned the word ‘threat”. I never issue threats. Frankly speaking, I don’t know what a threat is. It is not in my ADN and my political culture, but it could be the case that you confuse the open and straightforward talking, which you sometimes brand it as arrogance and sometimes call it something else. What I said and I want to reiterate is that this is a process where we need to maximally respect the goal we all share. I believe nobody doubts, I personally don’t, that we have no differences when it comes to this national goal. I do not doubt that Lulzim Basha or Ilir Meta, or anyone else, you name them, do not want Albania to integrate into the European Union. I believe everyone wants this, but that is not enough because integration into the European Union is not a flight. It is also not a transfer from here to there.

It is about constructing Europe right here. By building Europe here, I mean building values, principles and standards that have become a democratic matter of institutions and communication. I don’t know how the debate in Europe works the way it works here, even when it is a heated debate. I don’t accept and I will not accept that on one side we sign a principled agreement, which fully meets the DP demands, and on the other we throw insults, level accusations and incite animosity when talking about this issue, let alone other issues. We face threats and intimidation on a daily basis over this issue too and this is being done by individuals notoriously known for their abusive words.

This is unacceptable! The agreement will be forwarded to Parliament and to set the records straight I would say we owe nothing to the Democratic Party as if we were its paid servants to perform menial tasks and endure the insulting language of the master.

We are not their servants. As a matter of fact, they didn’t actually deserve all that respect and tolerance, yet we didn’t do that for their sake. We did it for the sake of a greater interest and set a clear example that we differ from them, even in this case. The opposition has been always credited for the electoral reform. This is not true! This is untrue! I used to be in opposition. We have discussed and negotiated with Sali Berisha, but it is not true that all our demands have been satisfied. No, in every aspect of the process there has always been a point when one party has clearly understood that the other party wont’ tolerate or give in. I haven’t seen such negotiations taking place ever before in this country. I have never come across a negotiating process with one party issuing threats and warnings that they would abandon the process and stuff like this. However, we don’t regret what we have done so far.

I do certainly feel remorse for what we failed to do now what we should have done over the past 30 years; that is the depoliticization of the election administration. Why didn’t we? We failed to do so because it was flatly rejected by them and we didn’t want to end up without an accord, yet they have no monopoly and exclusiveness on anything and that agreement will be forwarded to Parliament. We will stick to that agreement, but for that agreement to be approved by Parliament they should minimally deal with other issues instead of issuing threats and snide comments against the lawmakers who will vote on the agreement. On the other hand, I don’t respect Lulzim Basha, Petrit Vasili and anyone other than Rudina Hajdari and Myslym Murrizi and everyone else who didn’t boycott the parliament and didn’t take the streets to set Albania on fire. I don’t respect them a lot. I don’t choose my opponents and respect them as political rivals, yet they have no exclusiveness in this process. We are obliged to stick to the agreement with them. They have no other right whatsoever beyond that agreement, because people with their own identity and individualism are members of the parliament and they have made their own choice, no matter whether some like it or not. They are individuals who have joined parliament after having been approved by Lulzim Basha and Monika Kryemadhi and nobody can treat them disrespectfully. No matter whether we like them or not, no matter whether they like them or not, Albanian politics now comprises not two, but three sides.

It is us, the non-parliamentary opposition and the parliamentary opposition. We definitely have an obligation to accommodate their demands, yet we are not a charity foundation to provide for everyone. We also have our own interests in this process. Our primary objective and interest is to accommodate all parties, and therefore I provided a thorough and complete answer about this issue, because I don’t want to answer 1000 times about the same thing. This is not a threat. In my view, the agreement is not a reform. Let’s be clear on that. It is simply an accord about a status quo that doesn’t help Albania reform the election administration system, yet it helps in a broader aspect, building a climate of understanding about this process and of course it helps Lulzim Basha and the Democratic Party overcome the fear over elections.

-My question goes to the chief negotiator. Mr. Mazi, which is the opposition’s role regarding your post and have you had or will you establish direct contacts with the Democratic Party given that Mr. Basha is seeking to become a Prime Minister and it may happen that in the long process of the negotiations you would have to work with another government? Thank you!

Chief negotiator Zef Mazi: Thank you for the question! If you took notes during my presentation remarks, you would find out that I underlined the importance and indispensability of cooperation with all stakeholders, the state institutions and relevant factors. The opposition is at the same time one of the main stakeholders I will talk, ask, discuss, consult with and report about the progress we make. It is part of all state institutions. So, I believe we will have regular and continued contacts with all institutions and opposition is definitely part of them. Objective remains the same. The opposition has clearly stated it. The DP Chairman has declared it. There is one common goal, Albania’s integration into European Union. This position involves mandatory cooperation, discussion and reporting about progress and I will ask for the opposition’s support in this process. It is a process in the interest of the country and I am convinced I will enjoy collaboration and support in order to take the process forward. Thank you!

-Mr. Prime Minister, you have expressed readiness for a meeting and a round-table discussion about EU integration with the President and he has actually welcomed this readiness, saying he would sit with you whenever he can to discuss integration issues. Have you recently invited Mr. Meta to discuss EU integration? When do you expect the first EU-Albania inter-governmental conference to convene?

-I also have a question for Mr. Mazi, if I may. I would like to know whether you have had any communication with the President of the Republic. What are your relations with the President? While you were already appointed by the Prime Minister to the position of the chief negotiator, President Meta revealed to the public a 14-point document through which he called for a consensual candidate to serve as chief negotiator. Thank you!

PM Rama Edi Rama: Integration is not about talking. Have I invited the President over the past few days to talk about integration?! No, I haven’t had enough time to engage in a conversation. Integration is a process. It involves a road-map, several stages, bridges of interaction and in this respect I can say, Yes, we have been together at the National Council for European Integration and I will be at any station and at any point where my presence is needed, whereas the President will make his choice. However, since he has been attending meetings on EU integration he will continue doing so in the future. This is the way I have expressed readiness to sit with anyone whenever necessary and of course the President needs to communicate with me when it comes to integration or any other issue, except for setting an election date in compliance with an imaginary constitution.

As for the question, I have repeatedly said and experience has taught me to never set a date when dealing with the EU. It is a love story that is not crowned in a marriage, with the smaller one setting the date for the marriage day. It is them the ones who set, change and postpone the dates. Enough with the two marriages we prepared for while the other side didn’t show up. I am glad that it is now clear that the marriage postponement had nothing to do with Albania, but it had to do with them. The conference will convene when they decide to call it, while we should just do our homework, which we do not for the sake of the conference, but because they are things that need to be done for the country and well-functioning of the institutions. This is the good side of this process. The best side of this process is that we are doing this not for them and the homework they have asked us to do, because it is not them who have asked to integrate into Albania, but we have asked to integrate into their family.

Chief negotiator Zef Mazi: I was appointed under the government’s decision in distance for the reasons you already know, since I was unable to travel and formally assume the post due to the Covid-19 restrictions. Yesterday was the first day of my job in this position. I and the President know each other, because I used to work with him when he used to serve as Prime Minister and as Foreign Minister. He knows me and I welcome what he has already said about my professionalism, a fact that I highlighted at the meeting of the National Council for European Integration.

I said that the cooperation with the President, appreciating him for the commendable comments he has made about me, will be constant, he is part of the main institutions that run our country and I will maintain regular contacts with him. As I said, yesterday I started working in the office, so I did not have the physical opportunity to contact and request a meeting with the President, but such a meeting will take place in the next two or three days, depending on the President’s agenda.

As to the question about the 14-point document unveiled by the President, it is not my duty to comment on the position of the state governing institutions or the high-level officials. My job is to accomplish my mandate as a chief negotiator. Thank you!

-Given that the fight against corruption, including the high-profile corruption cases, has been one of the main conditions regarding the EU integration process, when are we to see the initial outcomes of this fight and the arrest of the corrupt high-level officials?

PM Edi Rama: The fight against high-level officials has never been and cannot be a priority in any country. The fight against high-level corruption cases is a top priority. On the other hand, I am neither a prosecutor, nor a judge and I am mandated to neither investigate nor arrest people, because this is a question, unfortunately, I still have to answer to many people who confuse the system we have chosen today with the system that was imposed in 1945. A political party doesn’t arrest people. A democratic government doesn’t arrest people. Thank God this is not part of my competences, because, moreover, a system where politicians are arrested by politicians, it has actually nothing to do with democracy and has nothing to do with the negotiations with the EU and the world we want to live in. What a party is tasked with doing once it wins the people’s trust to govern the country is exactly what I and the governing party have done. We have undertaken a process to reform justice system that has hit hard the most corrupt and most untouchable caste in the Albanian world and they are not politicians, high-level or low-level officials, but the corrupt elite of the judiciary and justice system that has violated the rights of the people over the past 30 years and has granted a special license to crime to do whatever they like to do. And the caste is being hit on a daily basis thanks to the vetting process. I first wish the process to complete as soon as possible, but, as the ambassador said, the negotiating process is a marathon and the state-building process is a marathon too.

Since its formation, Albanian state has never had a prosecutor’s office that is a totally independent and professional system. It is an inverted tradition. And it is about building a state from scratch in this aspect. The process is a complex one, it has problems and it takes great patience, because there are still judges who should no longer put on the judge’s robe and make rulings, but instead they should be wearing the prison uniform. However, some of them are still there and continue making scandalous rulings, but there is no other way since we have embarked on an irreversible path of Europeanism, modernization and democratization.

It can’t be done arbitrarily. It can’t be done by reinstating the capital punishment, as some suggest. It should be done by greeting teeth and patiently moving forward and by taking stock of progress compared to where we used to be. Justice system is being cleaned. It is a fact. There still remains a lot to be cleaned, yet it is a fact and it will take some time. The attacks against organized crime have begun in a way that nobody could even imagine not long ago. The Power of Law Operations has already created a completely new space, also thanks to the collaboration with the Special Prosecutor’s Office and the Serious Crimes Court. It will certainly take some time. The high-profile corruption cases will certainly be sent before justice, but it takes patience and everyone should understand that these things do not happen because we want them to happen today and they do not happen because the government or the ruling party wants or doesn’t want them to happen.

These all happen as a result of the system that is built, strengthened and then attacks. This is what I can say. The integration process is closely linked to the results, because once the negotiations get underway they would no longer be able to ask us to adopt this and that law, because the needed legislation is in place. Instead, they will ask us to enforce the law. Writing a law on paper is something, but enforcing it and the way you enforce it is something else and this is the way how the country’s performance is measured and things will certainly keep improving in this respect.

We in the majority and the political establishment should simply support justice reform. We have established an entire legislative corpus for this reform. We should just defend it from temptations to deform and funnel it through other channels. We should support it. We should support the system financially. We should make sure to keep politics at bay. Indeed, the system is built in a way that makes it impossible for the politics to influence as it used to do before. It stands no chance! The only influence politics can exert today is through threats, blackmails, open letters, 200-point plans and so on and so forth, yet this influence is a much relative one compared to the past influence. It is an obvious and tangible improvement. To conclude, Europe grants nothing and everyone should be clear about that. Europe is not generous. I said, if SP is not a charity foundation, the EU is worse in this respect. One stands no chance of being forgiven or that the EU takes a blind eye and pretends as they don’t understand. That’s why the Commission’s reports are the most credible ones, because it is the whole machinery working on those reports. It is whole machinery dealing with facts and not words. The EU doesn’t conduct surveys to measure the international transparency or the level of freedom and democracy. No, no. It checks every day what has been done and what not. When they send a questionnaire containing 74 questions about a certain issue and you have to provide 74 answers only then you start figuring out that it is about a not so generous mechanism, which is there not for charity purposes. Europe loves us a lot, but we should forget it would allow us access to it if we are not to create through fact the belief that we are equal to them in terms of standards and their implementation.

We are better than them right here (at heart), while it is a completely different story when it comes to here (the mind). But they don’t look at heart, but they look at here). This is the difference. So, for sure the process will definitely move forward.

-A former high-ranking Turkish admiral has recently claimed that Turkey prevented the maritime border delimitation agreement between Albania and Greece in 2009. Do you have any comments on this? The same admiral, in the wake of the maritime agreement between Greece and Italy, has urged Albania to show utmost vigilance and oppose this agreement, because, according to him, it runs counter interests of Albania. Do you recognize this agreement and what do we risk from that?

PM Edi Rama: If not wrong, because I don’t know whether any of these Ministry of Foreign Affairs experts can help me, but I know that the word “kazan” or the garbage bin is a Turkish word. Is it called “kazan” also in Turkish? Yes. So, the word kazan, or garbage bin is not exclusively an Albanian word. They are to be found in Turkey too. This is a garbage bin, indeed. Such are to be found in Greece too. “A garbage bin” in Greece speculated over a secret agreement to grant Turkey the Pashaliman base so that they could launch an aggression during night time while Greece was asleep. So, such ample nonsense things are found everywhere. An English “garbage bin” wrote a day ago that Albanian restaurants offered dinner meats from hunted bears. Did you read it? Bear meat is sold in Albania. There are plenty of bears in Albania, but they are not for sale. We have them in the process of dialogue.

Thank you!