A mission of the European Parliament’s Committee of Foreign Affairs (AFET) is travelling to Albania and to the Republic of North Macedonia from 27 February to 1 March, with a view to assess the progress made by both countries ahead of the June European Council which shall decide whether both countries shall be granted candidate status to the EU.

Speaking today at the press conference during the European Parliament’s mission in Tirana, Knut Fleckenstein, S&D spokesperson on foreign affairs and the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Albania stated:

“We are all expecting the 19 June European Council decision on whether to open negotiations with Albania. With a very large cross-party majority, the European Parliament took a very clear stance in favour of granting Albania with the candidate status. Our mission has been reassured that the necessary reforms, especially in the judiciary field and the vetting process, are ongoing and I have no doubt the Albanian parliament and government will continue on the reform path. We see no reason for further delaying the decision as the conditions set are met.”

“When it comes to the recent abandoning of mandates by the opposition MPs in the Albanian Parliament, I very much regret that decision. Boycotting the Parliament is in no respect a way out of political problems and is against democratic principles. Parliament is the forum where political disagreements should be addressed. Albania needs to focus on reforms, not on political quarrels. Demonstrations are an essential feature of democratic life. However, I strongly condemn the cases of violence we have witnessed this week and call on opposition political leaders to ensure peaceful protests, in line with the rule of law,” Fleckenstein concluded.