Candidate state says it hopes to join EU in 22nd century
Albania, which was granted EU-candidate status eight years ago, still maintains hopes that it could join the bloc sometime in the 22nd century, the Balkan country’s Prime Minister Edi Rama joked during an EU summit in Brussels.
“Of course, we'll continue on our European path with hope that in the next century we’ll be members,” Rama said on Thursday.
The sarcastic comment was made after the EU-Western Balkans summit in the Belgian capital, which brought no conclusive results for Albania and other EU-hopefuls in the region.
Brussels had failed to overcome Bulgaria's veto on launching accession talks with North Macedonia in time for the meeting.
It also stalled the bloc's negotiations with Albania as the EU-membership bids by the two neighboring countries are bundled together.
According to Rama, the problem wasn’t only about Bulgaria’s stance, but about the bloc’s overall unwillingness to add new members.
The Albanian premier said he was planning to make several statements during the talks with the European Council president, but “Charles Michel said that we have three minutes each, and I said that 30 seconds would've been enough if you fulfilled your promises.”
“They don't hear us as Europeans, but as guests in a divided house,” he complained.
It was “disturbing” that even such events as the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian offensive in Ukraine, which Rama believes could well escalate into a global conflict, weren’t enough to persuade the EU member-states to find common ground on expansion, the politician said.
Also on Thursday, the European Council decided to grant Ukraine and Moldova the status of EU candidates.
Speaking on the sidelines of the EU-Western Balkans summit, the Albanian prime minister warned Kiev against any “illusions” that its candidacy will turn into actual membership any time soon.
“North Macedonia [has been a] candidate for 17 years, if I have not lost count. Albania, for eight. So, welcome to Ukraine,” Rama commented.