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Brussels, 15 May 2012

Commissioner Štefan Füle: remarks following the 4th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council with Albania

This 4th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council was very constructive and forward looking.

It was very important that there was – for the first time - also a representative of the opposition at the table, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration Mr Bushati. This is a very significant expression of the commitment of both the majority and the opposition to jointly work on the EU agenda.

We acknowledged that the November 2011 political agreement reached between government and opposition and the resumption of the political dialogue and cooperation has paved the way for encouraging progress on the reform agenda.

Further progress however will depend on their joint capacity to maintain a stable and sustainable political dialogue in order to deliver results.

Full implementation of the November political agreement and achieving a critical mass of results in other areas, are pre-conditions to achieve the next stage in the accession process. This includes in particular the timely finalisation of work on amendments to the Electoral Code and to the Parliament's rules of procedure.

I am concerned to see that the electoral reform has not yet been completed despite today´s deadline. I am aware of discussions which are going on between the majority and the opposition and I know there is the willingness on both sides to solve this. Today´s deadline is not a concrete wall and if the parties need extra time it is in their hands. But I reiterated what I said in Tirana earlier this month – that it is of exceptional importance to finalise the November package before the procedure for the presidential election starts on 24th May. This is the only way how the November package could become part of the solution. Otherwise it could become part of the problem.

We talked also about the presidential election – it is important to have them in line with the letter and the spirit of the Constitution.

I am convinced that Albania can meet the various challenges that we discussed today and in particular the challenge of addressing the 12 key priorities of the Commission’s Opinion. I have absolutely full confidence in Albania's potential and capacity to fulfil the criteria for membership.

Enlargement-driven reforms also have to be seen in the regional context. EU integration in neighbouring countries like Croatia and Montenegro is well advanced.

Today, there has been dramatic change in atmospherics of the Cooperation Council compared to the last one a year ago. Whereas then we focused on the problems, today we were focusing on the solutions.

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