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EU integration: the Balkans follow the example of Albania

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Successful reforms in Albania, highlighting justice reform in particular, make this country the best example for the countries in the region who want to advance on the path of integration. 

This is how the international politics and business magazine “IntelliNews” writes, which during the analysis of the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries states that the EU has received solid achievements in its reform efforts and progress on the path of membership. 

High Representative for Foreign Policy and European Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini are quoted as saying that “the EU needs this pro-European energy of Albania within the European Union”. 

Johannes Singhammer of the Christian Social Union (CSU) in Bavaria knows Albania very well. For years, Bavaria and CSU have been engaged with Albania since the country was first projected as a potential candidate for EU membership in 2000: he said that Albania is a secular country, where different religious communities live in harmony with one another. Finally he underlined that the country is a full member of NATO since 2009 and is now a consolidated part of the values of the Western community, adding that Albania is actively participating in security operations in line with the common foreign and security policy of the EU and currently has a presence in Mali and Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

Milo Đukanović: The EU should not repeat its mistakes

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President of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) Milo Đukanović, at the opening of the Conference “Meeting the EU-Western Balkans Summit” organized by DPS along with the European Socialists Party (PES), claimed that the centuries-old interweaving of the great global powers in the Balkans threatens to endanger the countries in the region. Indeed, according to Đukanović, more EU in the Balkans means a faster level of integration and the EU needs to make stronger efforts to tackle problems beyond its borders. On this premises, President of the PES Sergei Stanishev claimed that it was wrong of President of the European Commission (EC) Jean-Claude Juncker, at the beginning of his term, to affirm that there would be no EU enlargement during his mandate. Indeed, according to Stanishev, without the Balkans, the enlargement process would not be complete. EU accession is not only a formal process, continued Stanishev, it is already a difficult process that requires mutual efforts and concrete solutions. 

The creation of a regional economic zone (REA) starts the first steps


The creation of a Regional Economic Zone in the Balkans has begun to be concretized. The first step is the recognition of Authorized Economic Operators among CEFTA (Central European Free Trade Agreement) member countries, which will bring more convenience to trade exchanges between countries.

To discuss this plan, was held a meeting in Tirana attended by representatives of the dogaphorical administration of CEFTA member countries. General Director of Customs, Belinda Ikonomi, praised the organization of this meeting as a continuation of regional cooperation, in the framework of the engagement undertaken at the recent “Berlin Process” summit, held in Trieste in July 2017, where the Prime Ministers of the Balkan countries expressed strong determination to work together to create a Regional Economic Zone (REA).

Since the first pillar of the action plan for the further advancement of regional trade integration includes a number of actions aimed at accelerating cross-border procedure in accordance with the additional protocol of CEFTA, Ikonomi informed that in Albania this document has already passed on all parliamentary committees and is epected to be approved by the Parliament.

Macedonia and Albania cooperation against terrorism


Skopje and Pristina concluded a memorandum of police cooperation in the field of terrorism. The memorandum has been signed Saturday by Macedonian and Albanian Interior Ministers, respectively, Oliver Spasovski and Fatmir Xhafaj, in Ohrid. The document foresees exchange of information of individuals and groups considered potential perpetrators of terrorist actions both in the two countries and in the whole region. Macedonia’s Interior Ministry expressed to consider the terrorism as a global threat as well as a risk for the countries in the Balkans. Thus, the memorandum envisages the terrorism from a preventive and repressive way. Spasovski stated Interior Ministries ‘are actively cooperating in protection and control of the border but also providing easy flow of people and goods’. From his part, Xhafaj noted that the agreement is on cooperation as for present than for future. Moreover, the two countries ‘should follow the excellent relations between as appropriate to two neighbors and our cooperation as ministries to follow those principles and thus contribute to greater security that can be a positive example for the region. The meeting concerned also the cooperation between Macedonia and Albania in the fields of drug trafficking, arms smuggling, exchange of information, experiences and positives practices, promotion of cooperation bilaterally and in the regional framework. In addition, Spasovski stated to support the initiative of the Albanian Police to establish a regional center for police cooperation of the Western Balkan countries.

Surplus of employees in Montenegro’s state administration


The state administration of Montenegro registers between 50000 and 60000 employees, 40000 of which, according to Branko Radulović (DF- Democratic Front), are identified as being surplus. This excess is estimated to cost €450 million. According to Dragutin Papović, member of the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), instead, the state administration should be evaluated positively given that Montenegro is the leading state in the Western Balkans in the process of EU integration.

Balkan crises could be solved by the return of Yugoslavia


According to British journalist Neil Clark, the cause of the crises that are crossing the Balkans lately is not to be sought into Russian politics, but in the breakup of Yugoslavia. The latter, according to Clark, granted economic stability and safety to Balkan countries. A survey conducted in 2017 showed how most of the respondents from BiH, Montenegro, Serbia, and Macedonia considered the collapse of Yugoslavia as a negative event. Clark also affirms how, today, instead of an economically strong and stable country, there are a series of small and weak states. This situation can be solved only through the gradual reconstruction of a Yugoslav Federation.

Serbia: UK and the future of the Western Balkans


A report called “UK and the future of the Western Balkans” was published by the upper house of the British Parliament, warning about the democratic instability in the Western Balkans. About Serbia, it says that state media companies had been privatized, but on the other hand they had been bought by people close to the ruling party. The report expresses concern about the lack of support from EU towards the region. “Statements by senior figures in the EU such as the president of the Commission postponing accession to some distant date in the future are not helpful”. It also mentions the perception that NATO has among Serbs: according to the paper, the organization is “still perceived to be the villain among the ethnic Serb population”.

Join European Project is important for Balkans


Prime Minister, Edi Rama took part in the 10th edition of the “World Policy Conference”, which kicked off Friday in Marrakech of Morocco. PM Rama was invited to be part of the panel “The Future of South-Eastern Europe”, together with Serbian PM Ana Brnabic, where he talked aboùt the importance of regional cooperation and the role of Albania in it, as well as the challenges of Albania’s EU integration. Talking about the prospective of EU enlargement with other aspiring coùntries, the PM said that the countries are in a different historical moment, that of completing the started process. The PM underlined that it is very important that the Balkan countries become part of the European project, as an extra factor for a safer and more secure Europe. The PM said that the current Balkans has positioned itself clearly in favor of the EU and is working hard for this.



Situation in Balkans in focus of Vucic’s meeting with Lavrov


The situation in the Balkans was in focus of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. “We hail any opportunity to hear your opinion about the developments in the regions, to coordinate our further steps on matters of concern for us and in the interests of stability in the Balkans and development of the countries of the region in conformity with the will of their peoples”, Lavrov said. “The sides agreed that bilateral cooperation is at a high level and political contacts are developing dynamically. They stressed mutual interest in the implementation of joint investment projects”, the ministry said. “They reiterated commitment to continue close coordination of steps on the Kosovo problem”. Vucic, in turn, spoke in favor of further development of relations between the two countries at all levels. “Russia is Serbia’s true friend. We are making no secret of it. I think we will be able to improve cooperation at various levels, including in the economic sphere which has been seeing improvement year after year”, the Serbian president noted. He also expressed gratitude to Moscow for its support to Belgrade in various international formats and organizations. “Your country has always defended Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Our people values it”, he stressed. Serbia has no plans to join NATO and wants to keep military neutrality, Vucic said.

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