Bushati – Francken: Opening of accession negotiations talks clearly indicates the importance of the region in EU

On 19 April 2018, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ditmir Bushati, welcomed the Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Mr. Theo Francken.

Minister Bushati and Secretary of State Francken praised the very good relations that exist between the two countries, demonstrated through the exchange of high-level visits, including the forthcoming visit of the Belgian Prime Minister, Mr. Charles Michel, in Tirana.

Greeting the European Commission's report, MEFA Bushati stressed that the clear recommendation of the European Commission is the recognition of the progress made in addressing the five key priorities. The decision to open negotiations will further boost the implementation of the undertaken reforms, including the reform in the judiciary, while the negotiation process will regulate and support the country's transformation processes, said Minister Bushati. The Minister underlined that the Albanian government takes to heart the importance of strengthening the rule of law, the fight against organized crime and illegal emigration, as well as the cooperation built in this direction with the EU member states.

Secretary of State, Theo Francken, conveyed their congratulations on receiving the recommendation by the European Commission for opening accession negotiations, and referring to the Belgian Prime Minister's visit to the region, he decribed it as an indication of the importance that the region, including Albania, has for Belgium and the EU. Focusing on the asylum seeker phenomenon, Mr. Francken praised the very good cooperation with the Albanian authorities in addressing this phenomenon. He briefed Minister Bushati on measures taken by the Belgian government to address the illegal asylum-seeker phenomenon and underlined that during the meetings he had had and planned to have during his visit, he was discussing ways to further intensify and make further tangible actions with Albanian authorities, with the aim of reducing asylum applications. Belgium considers Albania a safe country and asylum applications are unfounded and as such will be rejected, said Mr. Francken. The Secretary of State underlined that Albanian citizens are welcomed to visit Belgium by following the required rules for free movement, thereby avoiding border bans or penalties for illegal residence, punishable with 5 to 8 years entry ban in Belgium and in the Schengen area.

Minister Bushati informed Mr. Francken on the measures taken by the Albanian government to address the phenomenon and reaffirmed the political will for cooperation and coordination of actions between specialized agencies for this purpose.

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