Lecturer for a day at the College of Europe

After Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Italian President Sergio Mattarella and President of China Xi Jinping, it was the turn of Prime Minister Edi Rama to play the role of lecturer in the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. Upon invitation to address the audience a speech with theme "Keeping the dream of an Open Europe alive", Prime Minister Rama talked about the significance of the European Union and the enlargement process from the perspective of Albania and the region.

The College of Europe offers postgraduate programs of study with a focus on political, legal and economic issues, as well as European and international ones. Alumni of this College are personalities that hold important positions in Europe. This elite college has had over the years as lecturers some of the most important names of the European structures, but special invitation are also addressed to political leaders. 

The speech of the Prime Minister, and especially the question-answer part, was met with widespread interest. The views of the Prime Minister extended from the meaning of the enlargement process for the Western Balkans region, integration and modernization reforms in Albania, to the challenges of the Union. According to Prime Minister Rama, the enlargement process has been one of the most successful transformation of the EU, where 22 out of the 28 member states joined through different rounds of enlargement. 

“The Union is the transformative power of the political, economic and social life in the countries of our region, although we are not yet in the Union. EU conditionality is the main catalyst for our reforms which are also driven of course by our own determination to improve the living standards of our citizens. But without the EU integration mechanism it would be absolutely impossible to keep all these countries in the track they are kept, and to push all these societies through modernization.”

The integration process is a unique tool for a country like Albania and for the former communist countries in general, to democratize and modernize. That’s why, the prime minister said, it is not about when we can all come to Brussels, but when we will be able to be a normal part of the European family. Therefore, the opening of negotiations does not mean membership and has no additional obligations for the EU, while for us it is essential, because it makes it possible to maintain the country and society on the right track.

In the context of integration reforms, the prime minister pointed out the justice reform. "Now we are in the first stage of finalization of the justice reform. The Venice Commission is recognized by all as an adviser above the parties concerned, so I am confident that we will overcome the obstacles."

Today, the EU encounters the phenomenon of “enlargement fatigue”, which according to the Prime Minister “puts in danger the transformative power that EU has on the “Europeanization” of the regional countries. The “enlargement fatigue” also gives room to nationalist politicians and to radical Islam in the Western Balkans, which like to use geopolitical gaps that might appear in the Western Balkans for their own agenda.”

When asked how the current atmosphere affects Muslims in Europe today in the integration process, the Prime Minister said that such attitudes are more related to ignorance and lack of knowledge about religion.

"We are facing a big problem, related to the ignorance of the new generation or all of us together, with respect to religion. We must understand that the growth of anti-European parties is based very much on this war and on the ignorance of people who know nothing about Islam, the culture, the history of the religion, like any other religion. In Albania, we are working together with several partners and friends to build a package of secularism and religious culture, and to incorporate this in the school curriculum, to give children and young people the tools to understand and to have their own opinion."

The Prime Minister also focused on what he calls a paradox, the denial of the right to free movement to the citizens in Kosovo.

"Today the people of Kosovo cannot move freely, while ironically, when they were a marginalized community in Yugoslavia, they could move without any problem. They are the only country in Europe that still needs visas. This is a terrible paradox. This makes them feel trapped in their own independent state, and it sounds like a betrayal by Europe, in view of the common people."

If 10 years ago, the Prime Minister concluded, the Balkans were for Europe a small part of a much bigger picture, today it is of mutual interest to integrate the Balkans soon as possible.

Postal Address

Mission of Albania
30, Rue Tenbosch,
1000 Bruxelles

Tel / Fax

Tel. +32 2 640 3544
+32 2 644 3329
Fax. + 32 2 640 31 77
Emergency Tel. 0032485401237




Monday to Friday
09:00 - 17:00