Belgium’s federal government has not yet taken a stand on the opening by the European Union (EU) of negotiations with Albania, Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Monday after a meeting with his Albanian counterpart, Edi Rama. Michel was speaking during a working visit to Albania, before travelling on Tuesday to Serbia. Relations with the EU are an important talking point in his discussions with the prime ministers and presidents of the two Balkans States.
Negotiations on admission to the EU have been ongoing with Serbia since 2014, and the European Commission last week proposed to Member States to start similar talks with Albania given the progress made by Tirana.
“We think Albania deserves this opening,” Prime Minister Rama stressed after his meeting with Michel. “We are aware that this would not mean the end of our efforts, but rather a new phase in our efforts.”
The Belgian Prime Minister did not announce an official Belgian position on the opening of negotiations on Albania’s admission into the EU. A summit of EU and Balkans leaders will be held next month in Sofia, Bulgaria, ahead of a new meeting of the 28 EU States in June. “We wish to respect this calendar and not put the cart before the horse,” Charles Michel said.
However, he expressed appreciation at the measures taken by Albania in recent years, adding that Belgium would loyally assess the efforts made. “My visit here is not by chance,” he said. “I accepted your invitation; that’s a sign of my respect and my appreciation of your important efforts. I am in the camp of those who recognize and encourage them.”