Cakaj in Helsinki: Albania has satisfied the technical requirements for the EU to start membership negotiations

During his stay in Helsinki to take part in the informal meeting of the EU and Western Balkans Foreign Affairs Ministers, referred to as Gymnich, Acting Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Gent Cakaj had meetings with his counterparts, including the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Romania, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia, and the Secretary of State for European Affairs of Portugal.

Discussion in these meetings revolved around the perspective of the EU enlargement to include the Western Balkans, and Albania’s ambition to receive a positive response regarding opening of negotiations with the EU in October.

In the course of these meetings, Acting Minister Cakaj reconfirmed that Albania has met all the technical requirements for negotiations to start, with this being fully corroborated also by the European Commission Progress Report, and it is continuing to advance the reforms, thus expressing his conviction that opening of negotiations with the EU is well deserved.

Slovenian Minister Miroslav Cerar appreciated the criteria met by Albania so as to deserve that the EU starts the membership negotiations. Minister Cerar assured Acting Minister Cakaj of Slovenia’s support to favour a positive decision in the Council’s upcoming meeting in October.

In the course of his meeting with the new Croatian Minister Gordan Grlic-Radman, the latter reconfirmed Croatia’s active and strong support for the opening of the EU talks with Albania, thus reiterating their firm position on the Western Balkans being fully integrated into the European Union, which is one of the main expected priorities under the succeeding Croatian Presidency of the EU.

Danish Minister Jeppe Kofod appreciated the progress made so far in meeting the key priorities, and encouraged Acting Minister Cakaj to keep on carrying out the reforms at home. He affirmed that a fair evaluation will be made on the basis of the achievements conducive to the launch of membership negotiations.

Romanian Minister Ramona Manescu affirmed Romania’s continued support, as already expressed under the Romanian Presidency, for Albania’s progress towards its integration into the European Union by having membership talks started as soon as possible.

Czech Minister Tomáš Petříček confirmed that his country will continue to be vocal and active in supporting the European perspective for the Western Balkans, and will realistically stick up for Albania’s goal to have membership talks started in October. Albania has made the progress required to help meet the criteria relevant to this stage of the process, and now it is up to the European Union to keep its promise.

Secretary of State for European Affairs of Portugal, Ana Paula Zacarias, took an interest in the latest developments in Albania, and particularly, in the advance of the implementation of justice reform. She acknowledged the concrete results achieved, which will be used as a solid basis for the Council’s discussions and decision-making in October, to which her country will contribute in a constructive way.

In the course of talks held on the margins of the Gymnich, Acting Minister Cakaj received support from representatives of other European Union Member States, as well.

The focus of these talks was that now it is up to the European Union to provide a positive response to Albania on account of the reforms carried out, thus helping crown these efforts made by Albania with a well-earned and positive decision to be made by the Council in October.

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