Meeting of SEECP Ministers of Foreign Affairs takes place in Tirana

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ditmir Bushati chaired today the meeting of Foreign Ministers of participating countries of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP), in the context of the completion of the Albanian Chairmanship of the SEECP, from June 2014 to June 2015. 

The meeting was attended by representatives of 13 SEECP participating countries, as well as representatives of the European Union, the European Commission, Austria and the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), the latter as special guests of the Albanian Chairmanship. 

Ministers discussed the political situation and recent developments in the region, the level of cooperation and good neighborly relations, as essential elements for the further development of Southeast Europe. 

Under the auspices of Minister Bushati, Foreign Ministers of the SEECP also adopted a document on the improvement and adaptation of this initiative with regard to future challenges. In this context, Mr. Bushati encouraged the upcoming Bulgarian Chairmanship to continue working in this direction. 

In the framework of our Chairmanship’s priorities to strengthen the SEECP regional role, promote and boost dialogue between member countries and consolidate the sectoral importance of this initiative, Minister Bushati put the emphasis on activities organized under the Albanian Chairmanship and our achievements in this regard. 

He underlined that the Albanian Chairmanship was dynamic and well-oriented, with a calendar of activities including areas such as safety, statistics, good governance and anti-corruption, networks of excellences, infrastructure, justice and internal affairs, culture, youth etc. These activities were held in cooperation with line ministries, international partners, civil society and the academic world. 

Ministers gave messages of strong support to the process of integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures. They stressed the positive impact that the EU integration has had in consolidating and maintaining peace and stability in the region as well as in enhancing its economic development. 

Minister Bushati pointed out that the Albanian Chairmanship of the most important political forum in the region has been a significant political and diplomatic commitment for Albania, to further promote and confirm the role of our country's policy in the region and beyond. Furthermore, Minister Bushati stated that: "Neither peace nor stability should be taken for granted; they should become sustainable through our continuous efforts, concrete actions and above all, through our unwavering commitment to overcome bilateral differences inherited from the past and build the best future for our youth." 

During the meeting, foreign ministers of member states supported the Tirana Summit Declaration, which will be adopted by the heads of state at the Summit to be held on 26 May 2015. 

For the period of June 2015-June 2016 the SEECP Chairmanship will be held by Bulgaria.

In the framework of the SEECP Ministerial, Minister Bushati held special bilateral meetings with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia, Mr. Fatmir Besimi, and with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro, Mr. Igor Lukšić.

During the meeting with Deputy PM Besimi the parties discussed the importance of finding a solution for the political crisis in Macedonia and the contribution to be given by politics in the safeguard and promotion of interethnic cohabitation. With regard to the tragic events in Kumanovo, Minister Bushati assured Albania’s support for a full and transparent investigation process.

During the Meeting with Minister Lukšić, both counterparts pledged to advance the bilateral agenda and the agenda of European and Euro-Atlantic integration and committed to advancing bilateral and regional projects. Ministers Bushati and Lukšić signed an Agreement of Cooperation between the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania and the Government of Montenegro in the context of EU accession.

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Today, the Annual Meeting of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) was also held in Tirana, in the framework of the Albanian Chairmanship of the South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP). 

The meeting was jointly organized by the RCC Secretariat and the Albanian Chairmanship of the SEECP. The meeting was attended by representatives of about 50 countries and organizations which are members of this Council. 

At the Annual Meeting of the RCC, co-chaired by Minister Bushati in his capacity as head of the SEECP Chairmanship and Goran Svilanovic, Secretary General of the RCC, talks focused on developments and achievements of regional cooperation in South East Europe, within the RCC framework. 

In his speech, Minister Bushati praised the role of the RCC in transforming the common vision of regional cooperation into concrete projects. He stressed his belief that the RCC will continue to provide a substantial contribution to the joint efforts of our countries to deepen and further materialize this cooperation. 

Minister Bushati stated that the RCC should act as an umbrella organization for all international and regional initiatives in our region. He expressed his firm belief that this meeting will provide a new impetus in our joint efforts to offer our people a peaceful and prosperous future in the common European family.

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Remarks by Minister Bushati during joint press conference of the SEECP Troika

I am here together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Mr. Daniel Mitov, whose country will take over the Chair of SEECP. I am pleased to also be with the Minister Delegate of the Romanian MFA, Mr. Angel Tilvar, whose country had the SEECP Chairmanship before Albania. We wish to share with you the main elements of today’s Ministerial, which was the last under the Albanian Chairmanship, because, as I said a little earlier, Bulgaria will take the lead of the Initiative.

We had the opportunity today to exchange views on the recent developments in the region, as well as to endorse a series of important documents, such as the Joint Declaration of SEECP member states on developments in the region, which will be submitted for further approval to the Summit of Heads of states and Governments, scheduled to take place next week in Tirana. We also approved the document on the future of our organization, given that it was one of the priorities of the Albanian Chairmanship and was started during the Romanian Chairmanship. The document provides important elements for the future of the region and explores opportunities to have a more efficient regional cooperation.

The elections for the position of the RCC Secretary General were also held during today’s Ministerial. As you know, the RCC is the technical armor of the SEECP and we unanimously gave a second mandate, for the period 2016-2018, to Mr. Goran Svilanovic.

It became a common practice, during the Albanian Chairmanship, to hold talks and meetings between countries of the Western Balkans in the framework of the Berlin Process and this time was no exception. We also discussed with Austria and the European Commission on the steps to be undertaken and the efforts to be made from now until the Vienna Summit. In this context, I can inform the public that we adopted a Joint Declaration of the countries participating in the Berlin Process on the cooperation in the field of youth. This document, to be shortly available to the public, is inspired by the Franco-German model in the field of youth and comes as a result of the commitments taken by countries of our region during the Berlin Summit.

In this context, Albania and Serbia have been mandated by the other participating countries to the Berlin Process to draft an action plan aiming at materializing a regional cooperation structure for youth, in order to enable the adoption of this initiative by the Heads of States during the August Summit.

I believe that our yearlong Chairmanship, the meetings, adopted documents, initiatives and regional cooperation projects have been very fruitful. We hope that our initiative is further enriched by the Bulgarian Chairmanship, given that Bulgaria is an EU member and, as part of our region, an excellent advocate for that part of our region that has yet to be anchored to the EU.

I now give the floor to my colleague and friend Daniel Mitov and wish him, once again, a fruitful and successful Chairmanship.

Question: There has been confusion lately, following a statement by Prime Minister Rama, on a possible Albanian veto for Macedonia's NATO bid. Are we going to veto Macedonia or has the PM’s statement been misinterpreted?

Ditmir Bushati:Allow me to be straight forward and underline once more Albania’s stance, which is that Macedonia’s territorial integrity, democratic stability, interethnic harmony, as foreseen by the Ohrid Framework Agreement, are essential not only for Macedonia, but for the stability of the region as a whole. The Prime Minister was quite direct and referred to the standards and commitments stemming from NATO membership. He also referred to the conclusions of the Summit of Wells, such as the seriousness of reforms to be undertaken by Macedonia with regard to the rule of law, respect for human rights, control and democratic exercise of intelligence activity, and full implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. We want what’s best for our neighbors for obvious reasons, as well as because Albanians are a vital factor for the existence of Macedonia. That is why we are more interested than anyone for the Euro-Atlantic future and orientation of Macedonia, and thus for the Euro-Atlantic orientation of the region as a whole.

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