Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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President Begaj’s answers during the joint press conference with President Milanović

Question no. 1: What is the impact and effect of this state visit of the President of the Republic of Albania to the Republic of Croatia, especially in these new geopolitical moments with increased attention from the European Union to the region and the Western Balkans?

Question no. 2: How capable are Croatia and Albania, to help Kosovo in its membership in the United Nations and in other regional and international organizations, including NATO and the European Union?

President Bajram Begaj: As I already said in the statement, this visit is an expression of the clear will that we as presidents have in common, and that the relations between Croatia and Albania, in addition to the traditionally friendly relations, continue to grow. These relations are also of a strategic level, which means that we share the same vision and principles for issues related to the peace, security, stability and prosperity of the region we live in. Naturally, these good political relations cannot be understood without good economic relations. So on this occasion, I want to look at the opportunities and ways of cooperation in areas of mutual interest, so that the trade exchange between the Republic of Albania and the Republic of Croatia increases, and I mentioned it with some data that I think are important to be highlighted, such as the direct air line with Croatia and Albania, to create a connection between Albanian and Croatian ports for trade exchange, as well as strategically important projects that could be the road infrastructure of the Blue Corridor or the energy infrastructure of the Adriatic-Ionian gas pipeline, which will also connect to TAP in Albania. I assess that the war situation in Ukraine has caused countries to think differently about issues related to security, and for this purpose, I think that the European Union is also paying attention to the Western Balkans. I believe that this attention will be significant for this entire region to be integrated into the European Union.

 Question no. 3: What do you see as the biggest challenge, the biggest threat to the security of Southeast Europe – and in its context, how the situation will develop after the presidential elections in Montenegro and the messages that come from Serbia, Mr. Vučić who says that Serbia will be asked so it can put a stop to the destabilization of Kosovo, and in fact the statement of Mr. Dačić, who said that what is happening in Kosovo will affect mutual relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina?

President Bajram Begaj: In fact, I think that all the leaders of the Western Balkans should behave like statesmen, not politicians. There is a need for people to understand that empty rhetoric, nationalist rhetoric, which do not serve anyone, except increasing tensions in our region, must be put aside. About the statement you mentioned, I can add to President Milanović’s statement that for me as the President of Albania, Kosovo is of great interest and that the state of Kosovo is a sovereign, independent state and that the territorial integrity of Kosovo cannot be questioned. The International Court of Justice has decided, this is not a matter of individual desires, but for the individuals, I think that their desires should be put aside and they should work more for the well-being of their people, to put aside the rhetoric of conflicts and to build a society in the Western Balkans, where people have the right to live in peace, stability, security and well-being. I do not think that the elections in Montenegro have disrupted the journey of the Western Balkans towards the European Union. The new president has publicly stated that he has a clear pro-European and pro-North Atlantic Alliance standpoint. In terms of the security threats concerning the Western Balkans, I think that the overall global security situation has changed. Now, we no longer have a security breach that is only conventional, but there are also security breaches that are related to hybrid attacks, and needless to say, in this sense our region, I’m talking about the Western Balkan region as a whole, is not immune and can be in danger at any time. Certainly, there are other actors who are involved and want to be involved in the region, who want to harm or introduce obstacles in the region’s journey towards the European Union. I don’t think they will succeed because the entire region, at least publicly and politically, has expressed that it has taken a clear stance on the path to European Union membership.

Question no. 4: Last year in Tirana was held the meeting of the countries of the Western Balkans and the European Union, and there was a discussion about closing the so-called migratory holes towards which we have the flow and the increased number of immigrants, which represent one of the most popular routes for the movement of immigrants. Naturally, the European Union has asked the countries of the Western Balkans, including Albania, to tighten the visa rules for countries that are not part of the European Union, but also of Europe, and what will be your view on this matter when it is discussed in the second inter-ministerial meeting that will take place between the European Union and Albania?

President Bajram Begaj: The issue of immigration is an issue which is related to the flows coming from the Middle East and Albania. It actually is a good control of the territory. The number of immigrants in Albania, coming from these countries is low and I believe that even as a way to pass, as a transit route, it’s not the right one. At the Summit held in December between the European Union and the Western Balkans, despite not being a European Union country, Albania has managed to establish a very close cooperation with FRONTEX and has a detailed measurement plan to control migratory flows from the Albanian border. At least for the moment, it is not a phenomenon that is tangible or evident.