Stuck in the waiting room: Albania has joined the EU for many years | News


Tirana, Albania- The prospect of Albania joining the European Union has lost its luster to Jonara Hoxha.

Six years ago, she chose to study medicine in Tirana instead of accepting her foreign university.

“I really thought if I left, I would lose [my] In my country,” she told Al Jazeera. “Sometimes I think I will lose my place even in my family. So I stay here, I regret that decision of mine. “

After finishing her final year of study, she wants to become a general surgeon in Germany.

It’s not just that the starting salary in Germany is many times higher than her monthly salary of $600 in Albania.

To her disappointment, many of her professors never showed up in class, letting the students make a living.

She said that Albanian doctors are often under suspicion and suffer verbal and physical attacks.

“We should all help change these things, and I am willing to help, but I don’t want to be disappointed again,” she said. “I want to work hard for myself and grow into something bigger, but I can’t do it here… I feel like I’m losing hope.”

In the past ten years, 423,700 Albanians have migrated to the west for work, education and healthcare-14% of the total population.

After the fall of communism, immigrants were mainly manual workers, and now they include educated professionals who can strengthen the country’s middle class and economy.


Immigration over the years:

2014 – 46,525
2015 – 41,443
2016 – 32,532
2017 – 39,905
2018 – 38,703
2019 – 43,835
2020 – 23,854

Source: Albanian Statistical Institute


Reporter Enton Ablekaj said that work is one of the main reasons for the overwhelming support of Albanians for joining the European Union. Corruption is another.

“They don’t trust elections, they don’t trust politicians, and they think our government will gain more control from the outside after joining,” Ablekaj said. “That’s why they really want us to join.”

Albania’s energetic prime minister, Edi Rama, tried to clean up Albanian politics during his second term. He set up a special corruption court and allowed all Albanian Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judges to go through a review process. Determine their source of wealth.

Now starting his third term, Rama plans to focus on university reforms and equip the Higher Education Commission with diaspora Albanians. Their task is to prepare a system of mergers and joint projects with foreign universities to “internationalize the spirit of Albanian higher education”.

When asked about the high immigration rate, Rama said: “You can’t, just can’t, blame a little kid…want to get what he or she wants now.”

“What we have done over the years is not to waste more time, speed up the pace of reforms, speed up the pace of modernization, and let the country run its system. Then the trend may change.

He also formulated ambitious plans for the tourism industry in Albania, inviting tenders to build four ports and four airports along the Adriatic coast of Albania.

“When I became prime minister, it was impossible to make serious investments in tourism. It is impossible to imagine that five-star hotels or high-end investment would be considered. Now Albania is on their map,” Rama told Al Jazeera.

If Albania started negotiations in 2009, the EU, which it applied to join, all of these processes could be accelerated.

The European Commission has been encouraging the EU to do so for three years. Last year, the European Council of Government Leaders agreed to do so in principle.

Since then, Albania has been waiting for the start date. However, experts say that the Security Council meeting on June 24 is unlikely to release it.

The first problem is that the invitation from Albania is linked to the invitation from North Macedonia, whose bid was blocked because Bulgaria claimed to have the “Macedonian” language.

Bulgaria wants the country to say that it speaks the Bulgarian dialect.

North Macedonia recently overcame Greece’s opposition to its membership of the “Republic of Macedonia” in 2018 and agreed to modify it.

Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi said last month that Albania and North Macedonia can be decoupled, but this will bring credibility costs to the EU, which may be seen as trampling on the promise of not letting North Macedonia fall behind.

“I think there will be positive voices because the EU does not want to be seen as indifferent in this process, but they may not be of much significance on the ground,” said James Pettyfer, who teaches Balkan history in the Balkans. Oxford university.

He saw two other “elephants in the room”.

One is the illegal marijuana industry in Albania, he said, “permeates all aspects of the economy.”

Tourists in Tirana are often impressed by the number of luxury cars and frenzied high-rise buildings, but this seems to be inconsistent with the country’s 12% unemployment rate, large numbers of immigration and an average monthly salary of $600.

The new mosque in Tirana is located next to the parliament and is funded by Turkey [John T Psaropoulos/Al Jazeera]

Another “elephant” is the growing friendship between Rama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as what Petiver calls the “soft power aspect” of Ankara’s foreign policy, which includes funding Mosques were built in the Muslim-majority Balkan countries.

“Mr. Erdogan has a long-term vision,” Pettyfer said. “Especially for many unemployed young people, the clubs attached to these mosques are very attractive, and they also provide some pretty good scholarships.

“I think Rama has always hoped that in the eyes of the EU, Albanian Islam will not become an obstacle to joining the EU… Of course, in more right-wing EU member states, especially in France and Hungary, in fact, the population will be excluded at all. Membership of Albania.”

Rama firmly believes that he will continue to lead Albania to the west.

“We have completed our homework, and we should officially start,” Rama said. “I don’t think this will be resolved in June, but it may be resolved in the fall. But if not, we will wait.”





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