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Dear Ambassador of Romania,
Over the next 6 months, the first Romanian Presidency of the Council will be steering the European Union in its ever-forward journey. As the President of Romania, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, rightly said, this Presidency will shape the future of the European Union.
Romania will be navigating the difficulties, but also opportunities currently facing the Union: the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, negotiations for the post-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework and of course the election of the future European Parliament.
12 years after Romania joined the European Union, the EU can also count on a Presidency that will push the enlargement agenda further. In that respect, after the successful Bulgarian and Austrian Presidencies, I strongly welcome the continuity of maintaining the Western Balkans amongst our key priorities this semester.
For Albania, this period will be absolutely crucial. We are about four months away from the Annual Report of the Commission and five months away from the next discussion of the Council on Enlargement.
What the Member States expect of Albania was clearly spelt out last June: to consolidate progress on key priorities, and especially to deliver tangible and concrete results in the fight against corruption and in the fight against organised crime.
There have been very encouraging law enforcement operations over the last months, which should not only be continued, but followed by a solid track record of prosecution and final convictions.
Similarly, we have recently seen very important progress regarding justice reform, with the landmark setting-up of new institutions. This paves the way to the appointment of judges to the High Court and to the establishment of SPAK and NBI. But what it means fundamentally is that the justice reform, based on the vetting, is working and is irreversible.
The EU has very much welcomed these recent developments, but more must be done. Time is of the essence and the June decision should not be taken for granted. The EU is fully committed to help Albania, as the visit of Commissioner Hahn last week showed, but the country needs to orientate all its efforts towards this objective.
For this, a constructive dialogue among all political parties is needed. Their readiness to come together for the benefit and interest of all Albanians is essential for Albania's European future.
In this regard, the electoral reform to address the ODHIR/OSCE recommendations represents an immediate opportunity to unequivocally demonstrate this readiness for cross-party agreement and cooperation.
There is not much time left before the different milestones of the spring. It would be a mistake for Albania to not focus on doing all that the country possibly can over the next months to present itself fully prepared.
With all this in mind, it is a chance to be able to rely on the commitment of Romania as a partner to steer this work efficiently and successfully together.
I would like to I wish Romania the best of luck and success for this historical first Presidency of the country. I now have the honour of inviting His Excellency Mircea Perpelea, Ambassador of Romania to the Republic of Albania, to present the priorities of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
(Thank you Ambassador.)