US senior diplomats back Albania’s EU accession, don’t mention Open Balkans Initiative

TIRANA, April 29 – The US Embassy in Tirana unveiled the highlights of the visit of Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Special Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar on 28 and 29 April to Tirana through an statement on Friday.

They met with Prime Minister Edi Rama, various ministers, and opposition leaders.

The purpose of their visit was to deepen the already strong partnership between the United States and Albania as friends, NATO allies and members of the United Nations Security Council, especially as the 100th anniversary of the bilateral relations between the two countries is celebrated, the statement said.

According to the embassy, they reconfirmed US support for Albania’s membership in the European Union and encouraged the continuation of necessary reforms, including justice reform. They welcomed recent efforts to diversify energy sources, supplies and routes in Albania and beyond and underlined that the United States will continue to fight corruption as a core national security interest of the United States.

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On the other hand, they stressed the irreplaceable role of a strong opposition in Albania’s democracy.

It is noticed that the statement does not refer to the Open Balkan s Initiative, but PM Edi Rama said after the meeting that the US officials supported it.

Donfried also met with the leader of the Democratic Party (DP) parliamentary group, Enkelejd Alibeaj.

Different well- known analysts said in their comments on social networks that the US diplomats met those local officials who are connections of the Ambassador Yuri Kim, avoiding President Ilir Meta. They noted that the visit and talks happened one day before the Assembly of the Re-foundation Commission which will seal the legacy of the supporters of veteran Democrat leader Sali Berisha as the unified Democratic Party.