Albanian PM won’t beg for EU membership 

Albanian PM won’t beg for EU membership 

Albania would not “stay at Europe’s door and cry” to be allowed to join the bloc, according to Prime Minister Edi Rama. 

He hoped for permission to start European Union entry talks in October 2019 but France, Denmark and the Netherlands rejected the bid. 

North Macedonia’s application was also vetoed.

Both countries pushed through significant reforms in recent years. 

The European Commission is hoping to start talks with Albania and North Macedonia at an EU summit in May.

“I do not expect anything,” Rama, 55, told the media. “We should do the things that should be done … [we cannot] continue to live with this anxiety of waiting for something that is out of our hands.

“We are not on this path because the French or the Germans are asking us, but because it is the only reasonable path for the future of our children and for the future of this country,” the artist added. 

Albania, which has a population of 2.8 million, has carried out judicial reforms since 2016, introducing vetting of members of the judiciary to check for links to crime or anything else illegal.

“But to say that Albanians will become Swedes, I don’t think it will happen,” added Rama, a former basketball player.  

The government recently adopted a decree to intensify its fight against organised crime.

Earthquake aftershocks 

Construction sector corruption was exposed after the earthquake on November 26 damaged more than 80,000 buildings – many of which were poorly constructed – killing 51 people.

The European Union’s office in Tirana said the Albanian government, UN, World Bank and EU assessed “the total effects of the disaster in the 11 affected municipalities amount to over €980 million”.

Since November, more than 80 people have been arrested for involvement in substandard constructions and former mayors, said Elisabeta Imeraj, the chief Albanian prosecutor.

Builders, engineers and government inspectors for decades have ignored safety codes, adding extra storeys to homes that were not built to support the added weight.

Tirana has pledged to put an end to unchecked urbanisation, especially in coastal tourist areas where there has been poor enforcement of permits or respect for safety codes.

Tirana has planned out a €1-billion rebuilding programme ahead of a donor conference in Brussels on February 17.

Eighteen sites have been designated for housing blocks that are due to be built for those made homeless by the 6.4-magnitude quake. 

Around 17,000 people were made homeless overnight by the earthquake with approximately 10,000 of them now living in tents through winter, the government said. 

 

EU rejects: former North Macedonia prime minister Zoran Zaev with Albanian prime minister Edi Rama. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

 

 

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