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Opinion / Editorial

United Europe, I love you!

United Europe, I love you!

The friendship declared at the press conference of the Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and our Prime Minister three days ago, polled an interesting idea, a Dutch-Albanian initiative for the political community of Europe, in the background of the proposal of the French President Macron. We must understand that even though, like North Macedonia, we are among the European countries still among the most enthusiastic about integration into the big European family, respect and love for the European Union is a difficult path full of surprises. It is enough to look at the violent protests in Skopje two days ago, in response to Macron's proposal to start membership talks for North Macedonia. Meanwhile, the process of Albania's integration into the EU during the last 8 years has been on a difficult path full of disappointments. Not only from Brussels, but also from Tirana. Although, for our young people, it seems as if Albania started the road to the European Union yesterday, this is not true. The road started in 1992, a full three decades ago. This journey is not a race between countries, whoever reaches the finish line first enters! The basic, old, immovable principle of the EU is the merit of each candidate. This is the basic criterion, on which the candidates are evaluated. There is no other written criteria for group merit", "group of states" or that "states enter the group". Membership in the Euro-Atlantic structures has been the main, impartial, political, geostrategic, national interest and objective of Albania since 1992. In this competition with the EU, it was NATO that won! The negotiations of 35 chapters with the EU, with the European Commission, will be quite difficult, complicated and long. The legislative corpus, the set of laws-directives of the European Union is several hundreds of thousands of pages. It covers the whole package of a state, all spheres of life. Although it now looks like the ball is all in Brussels' court, this is not true. Regardless of the homework done, a lot will depend on us: how clear, understandable we will show that this great undertaking is worth it for our people. That famous expression of the boy who declares his love to the girl of his dreams "I love you dog!" goes a long way in that sense. Many things will depend on how well understood we will be with the United Europe and the rusting of its enlargement zembereks. How well-coordinated, dedicated, professional, serious and focused we will be in the talks with the Brussels negotiators. Strong, dedicated organization is required, to be as efficient as possible! And no mess in front of the gate, alla Albanian. The main pillars for membership are: the strengthening and stability of democratic institutions, respect for fundamental rights, the rule of law, the strengthening of the functional market economy and a considerable number of other areas, distributed in 35 chapters of talks. So the road is long, difficult, complicated, with loads, intensity many times higher than until now. Albania applied for EU membership in April 2009. In October 2013, the European Commission recommended that Albania be granted candidate status, subject to certain measures being taken in the framework of key reforms that the country had to undertake. The European Commission's 2013-2014 Enlargement Strategy Paper identified five key priorities to address, before accession negotiations could be opened. In May 2014, the Government of Albania approved a concrete progress plan to structure Albania's efforts to meet these five priorities. In June 2014, the Government approved the National European Integration Plan for the period 2014-2020. Albania was granted candidate status in the EU on June 27, 2014. In April 2018, the European Commission emphasized the recommendation to open membership negotiations with Albania. This became a reality two years later, on March 26, 2020, 11 years after the application. European leaders finally approved the decision to open membership negotiations with Albania. The European Commission was asked to present a report on a number of requests that had to be addressed by Albania before holding the first Intergovernmental Conference. This will be the long-awaited technical opening of negotiations with the EU. Albania met all the requirements, including: the Constitutional Court received full functionality, the Supreme Court and the National Bureau of Investigation as well, the special institutions for the fight against corruption and organized crime for almost two years are fully functional and have records, achievements high, visible. The vetting process progresses, the reforms in justice and beyond as well. It is moving without slowing down. In October 2020, the European Commission approved the enlargement package. But North Macedonia was blocked by Bulgaria. As a result, unfortunately, Albania is also blocked from this. Therefore, a year and a half after the blockade of North Macedonia and a few days after the irresistible proposal of the French President Macron, we all say in unison to our northern Macedonian neighbors: despite the violent protests in the streets of Skopje, tell the United Europe "I love you!", as we are saying. Accept this tough love.