Different interpretations of Open Balkan evoked during von der Leyen’s visit to Albania
TIRANA – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama have been repeatedly questioned about the Open Balkan initiative and its connection to the Berlin process during the joint press conference that took place is held today in Tirana.
The conference was held as part of von der Leyen’s visit to the region, which began today.
The same question was already raised during the visit of outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this month.
The President of the EC was first asked if she thought the Open Balkan initiative was a way to stabilize the region, or a way for the region to move further away from the EU.
“If we look at economic progress and the construction of a common regional market, the Berlin process is the framework within which we work and it is the process which advances this integration for the benefit of the six countries of the Western Balkans”, von said der Leyen.
She said that any initiative, which is part of the Berlin process and which is inclusive and cooperative, is welcome.
“So you shouldn’t be too picky about the different words, but about the content that is offered. And an open process, an inclusive process that invites everyone to deepen ties, improve cooperation between different economies and have really deep integration of economies is part of the Berlin process, ”said von der Leyen.
The President of the European Commission was then asked directly whether the EU supports the open Balkans or the Berlin process.
Von der Leyen replied that the Berlin process had been launched so that there was ownership in the region to integrate the common market.
“And that is absolutely right and you also have my commitment to move this Berlin process forward. Within the Berlin process there can be initiatives, as long as they are inclusive, as long as they honor the “The goal of greater integration of regional markets. They must be forward-looking, they must honor the objectives we have. Then there is my full support,” said von der Leyen.
Edi Rama was asked why a second process was needed to speed up a first, as Albania funnels all energy and resources into the Berlin process.
“I don’t know how many times I have to repeat it, but I will repeat it for as long as it takes. There is no second process that rivals the first or even less that opposes the first … We do not have to deal here with two processes. The only difference is that the Berlin Process is led by our friends and partners who have thousands and problems of their own and who don’t actually wake up with the question of how the Berlin Process is going… But we are here, and when we wake up in the morning we wonder how our economy is doing today, how our trade is doing today. These are the questions we ask ourselves, ”said Rama.
This means, he said, that out of all the principles and directions set by the Berlin process, the region can build on, move forward and de facto deliver what is said and said once in a while. year at a summit of the Berlin process.
“We go from top to top with no progress. We have the same high statements regarding principles. But, little by little, we have eight years since the process began, we still have walls with non-tariff barriers, we still do not have unified documents in place for exporters so that they do not wait for borders for hours or even days sometimes. We still have quite diverse trade regimes in place from country to country. Open Balkans is open to everyone. Who wants, can enter. Who does not want to enter can do so, but cannot take us hostage. The Berlin process has this issue of being held hostage to consensus, ”Rama stressed.