Support for Albania at the annual conference of the Visegrad countries and the Western Balkans

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ditimit Bushati attended the annual conference of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Visegrad countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia) and those of the Western Balkans, which was held in Warsaw on 29 November 2016 under the Polish Presidency of Visegrad Group. The meeting was attended by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Romania, Slovenia, Croatia and the Italian Undersecretary of State.

Besides mechanisms for strengthening of cooperation between the two regions, the discussions focused on the progress of the EU enlargement process, not only as a technical process, but also as an instrument in dealing with the security challenges in Europe. In this context, the Visegrad countries reaffirmed their readiness to support the accelerated integration of the Western Balkan countries. Full lining with the foreign and security policy of the EU, as in the case of Albania, was identified as an important element of this process.

More specifically for our country, the Visegrad Group countries welcomed the European Commission's recommendation to start accession negotiations of Albania with the European Union and expressed support for establishing as soon as possible of a date for the official launch of negotiations. They commended Albania's progress, especially the reform of the justice system, and urged that this progress is clearly reflected in the conclusions of the EU Council in December.

Focusing on Albania's European path to the EU, Minister Bushati praised as extremely important the role of the Visegrad countries and their continued support.

In his speech the Minister highlighted the importance of continuing the enlargement agenda as an essential element for our region, but also for the EU itself. Briefing on ongoing progress in the implementation of the reforms undertaken by the government, Minister Bushati stressed that "enforcement of vetting for judges and prosecutors is a key step to decisively continue the process of opening accession negotiations with the European Union".

Regarding the re-dimensioning of the structures of regional cooperation, Minister Bushati said that actually, the countries in the region should define concrete targets in their cooperation, in particular to facilitate the movement of young people and creating new jobs for them.

Minister Bushati underlined that "the EU enlargement process is a technical process that has to do with fulfillment of specific conditions, but it should also have a political spirit, which is missing. This political spirit is essential in this period of security challenges, both for the EU and the region".

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