Albania's Chief Negotiator for EU Integration, Ambassador Zef Mazi, paid an official visit to Slovenia. This visit took place in the framework of the Presidency of the European Union, held by Slovenia, and on the eve of holding several important meetings of the European Council. The Slovenian presidency ends its term at the end of December.
During this visit, the Chief Negotiator was received in a meeting by the Secretary of State for Europe, Mr. Gasper Dovzan, by the Secretary of State for General Affairs and International Organizations, Mr. Stanislav Rascan, and by the Chair of the Foreign Policy Committee in the National Assembly of Slovenia, Mrs. Monika Gregorcic.
Chief Negotiator Mazi expressed the gratitude of the Albanian Government for the special attention and support of Slovenia to the enlargement process and to Albania in particular.
The Slovenian hosts congratulated, on behalf of Slovenia as President of the EU, but also on behalf of all EU countries, on the already appreciated progress of Albania. This unanimous spirit of appreciation and support was clearly confirmed in the discussions at recent meetings of the EU General Affairs Council. The Slovenian presidency has pushed hard, and has had support, to move enlargement forward, keeping it high on the agenda. The focus has been, and will continue to be, the holding of the first Intergovernmental Conference. This, in the hope that it will be realized within this presidency.
The meeting discussed the stalemate that still remains unresolved between Bulgaria and North Macedonia. It was underlined that the recent political developments do not give much reason for optimism. Slovenia, however, will continue its efforts, without stopping, to push the process forward, to take the right steps forward to resolve the disputes. It was also underlined that efforts should be increased for the parties to dialogue until a consensus is reached. The Slovenian Presidency thinks that there is still hope that in the next three weeks the efforts will increase, to talk to all parties, at all levels, so that a solution desired by all can be reached.
Ambassador Mazi gave an overview of all developments and achievements of Albania in general in all areas. They are already institutionally confirmed in the Progress Report of the European Commission Albania 2021. He expressed concern and regret that Albania has been taken hostage, remaining as part of this bilateral conflict. Albania is suffering collateral damage, although it has nothing to do with this situation. The Ambassador demanded that the Slovenian Presidency and the EU itself should find the strength, in the current situation, to look at the issue strategically, discuss and decide to push the process forward. In one form or another, if this dispute continues for a long time and indefinitely, the enlargement process must continue. Albania has no reason to wait. This merit must be rewarded. Albania has met all the requirements. The integration process must carry on. The credibility of the EU should no longer be allowed to be called into question. Albania, on its merits, is ready for the technical start of negotiations, to sit at the table of the first Intergovernmental Conference.
Uncertainty at the moment should not stop the process, and to avoid this stalemate it should be agreed that the alternative solution should begin to be discussed among EU member states.
The Slovenian hosts, convinced that the enlargement process is essential for the future of the EU, underlined that enlargement will continue to be their focus. They will keep maintaining intensive contacts until the end of the Slovenian presidency even after it.