Government and the opposition exchanged accusations on Wednesday after the EU Council of Ministers rejected Tirana’s bid for candidate status for the third year.Prime Minister Sali Berisha told the cabinet he blamed the opposition leader Edi Rama for the failed bid, accusing the Socialists of blocking the reform process.
“Rama attained his sinister goal, by blocking our EU candidate status, which he believes would have boosted the government’s appeal in the upcoming elections,” Berisha said.
The Socialists hit back at Berisha, saying the government’s failure to complete its EU homework was the real reason for the negative response.
“Brussels outlined 12 key reform priorities,” said a Socialist spokesperson Milena Harito. “Four of these priorities have been dealt with the support of the opposition, while the remaining eight have not been addressed by the government,” she added.
The EU Council of Ministers on Wednesday said that despite some progress Albania had to do more in the fight against corruption, organized crime and conduct elections according to international standards in order to make progress in its accession process.
EU Enlargement Commissioners Stefan Fule said the Council’s conclusions had sent the right message to Albania, acknowledging the work done so far while encouraging stakeholders to remain focused on European integration and the reform process.
“The doors to the EU remain open and the Conclusions [of the meeting] show the way for Albania to continue progressing towards its European integration goal,” Fule said.
“Albania will have to keep the reform momentum, leading to the completion of the measures required for the Council to consider granting candidate status,” he added.