German Ambassador / German EU Presidency to Support Albania and the Region in Recovering from Crisis

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FRY Ambassador to Tirana Peter Zingraf for DW: The German EU Presidency will support Albania and the region in their recovery from the Corona crisis and will give new impetus to their European perspective.

DW: Mr. Ambassador, Germany launched the six-month Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) earlier this month under the motto "Together for the Recovery of Europe", focused on overcoming the Corona pandemic crisis. Can you please present how Germany will address the challenges of tackling this crisis, inside and outside the EU?

Peter Zingraf: In this crisis, we in Europe must find solutions together and draw the right conclusions, so that our continent recovers from the shock of the virus. Crisis management includes further health stabilization, exit strategy coordination, economic recovery, and consolidation of social cohesion. In this context, the EU is also on the side of countries in regions beyond its borders.

DW: Specifically for Albania?

Peter Zingraf: A strong EU is in Albania's interest. The EU and its member states have in recent months substantially supported Albania by sending protective equipment and medical equipment, but also by assisting socially disadvantaged groups - I have personally been present at such relief activities. in Tirana and Shkodra. But let me also briefly say that we - no matter where we are - can only curb the virus if we all contribute to it. Unfortunately, in the city and tourist centers in the country, I often find that the basic rules of distancing and protection are not respected.

DW: The support of the German Presidency towards Albania, in facing the Corona crisis, brings to mind another crisis: that of the refugees, 30 years ago. Here, in the territory of the German Embassy in Tirana, 3000 people flooded from 2 - 12 July, 1990, in its courtyard and premises to escape from communist Albania towards the freedom of the West. For Albania, the event was the prelude to the overthrow of the communist regime. What about Germany? What is the significance and significance of this historical event in its relations with Albania?

Peter Zingraf: The events of July 1990 were a severe blow to the communist regime. Those images we already knew from other West German embassies, for example in Prague. The people who fled at that time in Tirana, first within the territory of our Embassy and then in Germany, together built a first bridge between our two countries. And we want to remember exactly these historical events. For this purpose we have created a virtual exhibition as well as interviewed witnesses of the time. I invite everyone to take a look at our website and Facebook.

DW: Mr. Ambassador, let me return to today. As you pointed out in your video message, on the first day of the German Presidency, on July 1, this presidency will not be just a Corona Presidency. Where will the main contributions of the German Presidency to Europe be concentrated, in these difficult times?

Peter Zingraf: Many tasks await us, because the world does not stop. We want to conclude the talks on the EU's multi-year budget and turn it into a budget for the future, which will help Europe emerge from the crisis in a sustainable way, with investments in climate protection, digitalisation and research. scientific. In addition we want to contribute to the consolidation of European digital and technological independence. Post-crisis recovery should be a "Green Recovery". An ambitious climate protection policy, harmonized with the EU Commission's Green Deal, continues to be central. Migration policy will continue to be an urgent topic.

DW: The entry of the Western Balkan countries (WB) into the EU and the withdrawal of this region closer to the EU is another project? of the Presidency of Germany. In its program, this presidency is committed to being the "locomotive and mediator" of the European perspective of the region. What does this mean in concrete terms? How will the German Presidency give new impetus to the membership process of Albania and the region?

Peter Zingraf: Of course, that, even as the country of the Presidency of the European Council, Germany will continue to commit to a credible prospect of EU membership of the BP states. Further approximation of these countries with the EU is in the interest of both the BP and the strategic interest of the EU itself. With the drafting and approval of the negotiation framework for Albania and Northern Macedonia, we want to prepare the start of membership talks with both countries.

DW: Mr. Ambassador. Do you think that Albania is responding properly and in time to the implementation of some priority reforms, required by the EU and the German Bundestag before the First EU Intergovernmental Conference, to deserve the concrete start of EU accession negotiations?

Peter Zingraf: I am glad that the actors of Albanian politics have found a first consensus regarding the Electoral Code. Now it is time to move forward with the implementation of the agreed measures. In addition to electoral reform, an important element from the German point of view is the functionality of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court, which are essential for the country and are part of the set of conditions that must be met before the First Accession Conference can take place. I wish that rapid progress is made in this direction. In short, the ball is still still on the field of the Albanian side.

DW: What do you think about Electoral Reform? Unfortunately the administration of the electoral process remained political. One of the main OSCE / ODIHR recommendations was not implemented and was postponed to be implemented in the post-2021 electoral process.

Peter Zingraf: The Political Council's agreement on elements of electoral reform was a sign of encouragement and encouragement on Albania's path to the EU. Implementation of the agreement and debates on further changes are not actually concluded, they are still ongoing. It is important here that the OSCE / ODIHR recommendations be seen as a guideline. At the same time, the progress that will be made in clarifying the accusations of electoral fraud and vote buying in the last elections is also important.

DW: What do you think about the process of appointing Constitutional Judges? For more than two years, neither the Constitutional Court nor the Supreme Court has been functioning in Albania

Peter Zingraf: The process of selecting and appointing constitutional judges is, in fact, complex. But it is an important and proper process, as the next Constitutional Court will have to decide on important issues and only an independent decision-making body can have the authority to do so. The Venice Commission opinion shows the way: The justice and constitutional institutions involved in this process must cooperate constructively in order to make progress soon./DW/

 

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