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Speaking ahead of the Brdo-Brijuni summit, High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini stressed the importance of good neighbourly relations, regional stability and coordination and cooperation within the region which remain essential elements of the enlargement process. Particularly the Prespa Agreement can be a role model for a peaceful resolution of disputes in the region and beyond. Mogherini also acknowledged Albania's role in the region as a constructive partner, the full support to its neighbours and Albania's continuous, 100% alignment to the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy.
Mogherini commended Albania’s progress and transformation process of the country, the institutions and the society in the past year. Achievements in fighting organised crime and corruption, the drastic reduction of cannabis cultivation and particularly the justice reform are exemplary for the whole region and beyond. She stressed the vetting of judges and prosecutors was bringing tangible results and how proud the Albanian citizens are of this reform. “The results of the last survey that was published by the European Union Delegation show that almost 80% of Albanians support this reform and the majority of them believe that it brings positive results to their own lives, to their own country. This is key to building trust in the new judicial institutions,” she said in a press conference with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.
The High Representative further highlighted the importance of sustained and constructive political dialogue in order to continue with reforms in the interest of the Albanian citizens. She encouraged all Albanian institutions and political parties to be united behind the objective of the European Union integration of Albania and put aside their divisions. “I believe it is what the Albanian citizens and in particular the youth of Albania put as a priority for their present and their future – the European integration of the country.” Albania remains one of the countries in Europe that has the highest level of trust in the European Union. “92% share the goal of joining the European Union and that puts, obviously, a great responsibility on all leaders in the country, no matter the political colour.”
Mogherini also participated in the Europe Week activities organised by the EU Delegation to Albania. She spoke at the Premiere of Verdi's Il Trovatore in the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania. The production is supported by the EU in Albania and the Embassy of Italy and brings on stage an impressive group of Albanian, Italian, Serbian, Ukrainian, and Georgian artists. She highlighted the role of arts and culture in bridging divisions and bringing people closer together. “European culture starting with the music, with the opera, but also all the arts has always expressed this unique European identity across the borders. The Balkans have always been at the heart of the European arts, of the European culture. I don’t think there is a Balkan art and a European culture. I think we have just one European culture and the Balkans are at the heart of it.”
Albania is an EU candidate country since June 2014. The country has made progress towards meeting the political criteria for membership and, overall, steady progress continued in the five key priorities (reforming the judiciary and the public administration, fighting corruption and organised crime, and protecting human rights). The European Commission on 17 April 2018 recommended opening EU accession negotiations with Albania, while the Council in June 2018 agreed to respond positively to the progress made by Albania and set out the path towards opening the accession negotiations in June 2019.