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Albania: PM Rama, our dream is the EU, whatever it will take

Europe is a religion for us, told ANSA in an interview

29 August, 11:15
(by Stefano Giantin) (ANSA) - BELGRADE, AUG 29 - "I am nor optimistic and either pessimistic, I am just realistic, which means I know, we all know that it is not about us but it is about them, the EU I mean. We have done everything to deserve the formal start of negotiations since more then two years now. But they have not delivered yet because of their own problems and lately because Bulgaria is blocking North Macedonia," Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama told ANSA in an interview. "So, bizarrely enough, Albania also has to wait Bulgaria to lift the veto on North Macedonia. Nevertheless, I think this struggle help us realize that we must push and push forward as much as we can, without illuding ourselves while never giving up on pursuing the dream of many generations to be integrated part of Europe, whatever it will take," Rama noted.

Albania and North Macedonia pursued painful reforms in the past years to progress in the EU path. They both met all criteria set by Brussels, but their accession path is still frozen. "Our two countries - Rama said - have become like the two guys of Waiting for Godot and the EU looks very much like Samuel Beckett himself. Italy has been our loyal and vocal advocate all the way. Renzi before, Gentiloni after him, Conte and especially Di Maio later on could not be more engaged to make the point that Albania deserves to start the accession talks. But the EU is far from being able to be strategic and very often polls of next elections in one country or another are much more important than goals about the future of Europe's next generation," Rama stressed However, there is no alternative to the EU integration, Rama noted, assuring that the so-called 'Open Balkans' initiative, pushed forward by Belgrade, Tirana and Skopje in july is no substitute to the EU path. "There is not and it cannot be a substitute alternative of the EU integration," Rama told ANSA.

"On the contrary, Open Balkan is a new tool to move faster towards the EU integration, by implementing in our region the four freedoms of the European Union; free movement of people, goods, services and capitals. It is a project of enduring peace and cooperation. Alone we are all small markets together we can be a fairly attractive common single market," Rama said.

With the EU integration process stalled, China, Russia, Turkey and certain Arab countries expanded nonetheless their influence in the Balkans. Do you see this more as a risk or as an opportunity? "This is more a myth then a reality for Albania and the Albanians," Rama replied. "There is no possible influence that can alterate our European belonging. Europe is a religion for us and beyond all constrains and disappointements we want to be fully part of it as a choice of our vocation." Albania that was also one of the first countries in Europe to welcome Afghans fleeing the Taliban. "It is about who we are and who we want our children to be," Rama said. "History and life taught us that there is a time to give and there is a time to get. Albania was the only country of Europe where there were more Jews after the Second World War then before it. Albania hosted half a million war refugees fleeing Kosovo ethnic cleansing. Albanians were the afgans of 30 years ago facing the coasts of Italy. We were sheltered and helped then and today thanks to Italy and others who did it for us our lives have changed forever. I know it is not an easy issue to deal with and there is not an easy answer, but let me say this. Until a few days ago we all there as NATO were their guardian angels. It cannot be that we now become for them shadows, fading away together with the ideals, the values, the principles and the very promise of freedom and democracy. It cannot just be that we, the strongest military alliance on earth, becomes a powerless, hopeless, meaningless creature not only in the eyes of the Afghan people but in the eyes of the world, of the millions of human beings that crave freedom, fight for justice, dream of democratic societies at home. It cannot be, it just cannot be that all of us here, our community of countries, cannot give hope, shelter, a new life to all of those there, the community of the people who trusted us, worked for us and fought for the promise of the future we represented." (ANSA).

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