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Croatia Supports Albania in EU Accession Course

Published: January 22, 2014; 11:28 · (Vindobona)

Albania hopes that EU Accession Negotiations will take place in June 2014.

Croatia Supports Albania in EU Accession Course / Picture: © Flickr

Croatia believes that Albania should begin European Union membership negotiations as soon as possible and will assist it in that, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said in Tirana on Monday, adding that it was not right that Belgrade was beginning the negotiations and Tirana not yet.

"Our position is that Albania, on the model of other countries in the region, should begin the negotiations as soon as possible, and this is our position in European bodies too," he said, warning that Croatia had only one vote. "But this voice will be heard. Moderately, sensibly, but it will be heard."

Albania hoped to begin the negotiations last month and now believes it will happen in June. Serbia, on the other hand, has begun the entry talks.

"Our support for Albania's beginning of the negotiations is genuine, just as it was for Serbia. I don't think it's right that Serbia has begun the negotiations and Albania hasn't," Milanovic told reporters after meeting with Albanian PM Edi Rama.

Milanovic said it was realistic to expect that Albania would begin the negotiations in June. "In politics, unfortunately, you can't always be guided by rational criteria, but if a country is a member of NATO, it means that at least it has an army which is part of a state apparatus aligned with high international standards. Therefore, it deserves to be given a chance to at least negotiate on EU membership."

"We will oppose prejudices," Milanovic said. "The European policy is often under pressure from regional prejudices. We will speak loudly against that because we ourselves were exposed to such treatment."

Rama agreed that prejudices were an issue. "Prejudices were the reasons why we didn't get the candidate status in December, but the process of reform, modernisation and drawing closer to the EU has no alternative for us. This makes us a better country and our people will live better. Whether it is in June or later, we will pursue the changes because they are good."

"Croatia's membership and the agreement signed by Serbia and Kosovo are the two most important events of last year," Rama said, adding that the whole region was gradually cooperating. "In 2014 we are on the path of cooperation in all fields."

As for media claims that Albania would close its embassy in Croatia as part of downsizing and that it would cover Croatia from Ljubljana, Rama said this was untrue "because Croatia is an example, serving as a country which inspires us and is an important partner to us. We are in the process of reorganising the Foreign Ministry and some of the embassies will be closed, but certainly not the one in Zagreb.