Presidenti i Republikës së Shqipërisë

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Speeches, Speeches

President Begaj’s remarks at the High-Level Meeting of the next Montenegro’s presidency of SEECP Summit

Honorable Mr. Chairman-in-Office, Dear President Milatović,

Dear Colleagues and head of delegations,

Allow me to join the previous speakers and express my thanks to President Milatović for his hospitality and warm welcome in this summit.

Thank you, President Milatović!

I would also like to congratulate the Podgorica Chairmanship-in-Office, for its successful presiding and for convening this annual meeting in the light of fostering the regional cooperation and accelerating the European integration process.

Albania has fully endorsed the priorities of Podgorica SEECP Chairmanship-in-Office.

The EU integration of the aspiring SEECP participants, security and human rights, strengthening the democratic institutions, economic cooperation, green transition, and sustainable development still remains crucial for our region.

When we talk about the EU integration process, we have in mind the six Western Balkan countries, which have made tremendous progress in this regard.

Like Serbia and Montenegro before, Albania and North Macedonia, a year ago, have opened accession talks, and now are expecting the endorsement for the second Intergovernmental meeting with the EU.

Bosnia and Hercegovina has received the Candidate Status, and Kosova, will soon enjoy visa liberalization and hopefully will get the status of a candidate country as soon as possible.

I would also like to congratulate Moldova for the EU Candidate Status.

Due to the new geopolitical circumstances, the EU has changed its approach concerning the enlargement policy. We strongly believe that the EU participants of the SEECP forum will further contribute to facilitating the European integration process of the Western Balkan countries.

This new approach has also been witnessed with the first ever EU-Western Balkan Summit organized in Tirana last December, but it also coincides with the fact that this year, Albania will chair, as the first country from the Western Balkans region, the Berlin Process and having the Summit in October 2023.

But, when we refer to the issues of security and human rights, the impact is broader than just the Western Balkans region. It concerns all of us because of the current security situation in Europe as a result of the brutal Russian military aggression in Ukraine, but also past conflicts and the interference of third malicious parties and disinformation, but not only.

Therefore, I do believe that the only response to all these challenges should be to strengthen the strategic cooperation, among us and with the EU, in security matters, foreign policy, rule of law, and economic development.

Regretfully, the security in our region is still very fragile, and it is our obligation to change the situation. The dialogue for all open issues should prevail, and the conflictual rhetoric should disappear from our vocabulary, for the sake of our common pursuit of peace and development.

The SEECP countries, where there are 6 EU candidate states and 9 NATO member states, face new challenges and threats, therefore they should prioritize national and regional security, stability, and their future in the Euro-Atlantic axis.

Of no less importance, are democratic institutions, economic cooperation, green transition, and sustainable development. On democratic institutions, we have worked very hard to strengthen them further.

Through history, we have learned that democracy is not irreversible. If we are not taking immediate and coordinated actions to further strengthen democratic institutions, the slide from democracy to autocracy may be only a matter of time.

I cannot close my remarks without mentioning RCC (Regional Cooperation Council) and its excellent synergy with SEECP.

We all take pride today, that the executive arm of SEECP, RCC is at the frontline of the regional cooperation agenda in the WB and has successfully delivered amidst the political challenges.

Albania has highly appreciated the RCC work and RCC South-East Europe 2030 Strategy, believing that this Strategy, will further the development, stability, and economy of the SEE region.

This strategy will also ensure better standards of living in the region and accelerate the European integration process.

In conclusion, I would like to convey every success to North Macedonia for the up-coming Chairmanship-in-Office of SEECP and Albania is looking forward to taking it over for the term 2024-2025.

Thank you!