Dáil Éireann - Volume 571 - 01 October, 2003
Written Answers. - Official Engagements.
Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin
183. Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will make a statement on his visit to Albania on 28 July 2003. [21077/03]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): I visited Rome on 28 July for an EU ministerial troika meeting with Albania. The EU troika was led by Foreign Minister Frattini of Italy and included Ireland as the next Presidency. The European Commission was also represented. The Albanian delegation was led by Prime Minister Fatos Nano and included the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Integration, Ms Ermelinda Meksi, and the then acting Foreign Minister, Mr. Marko Bello.
The troika meeting was part of the continuing high level political dialogue between the EU and Albania. It covered the progress in the negotiations for an EU-Albania stabilisation and association agreement, which opened in February 2003. We discussed the Albanian Government's efforts to implement wide ranging political and economic reforms in the context of the outcome of the EU-western Balkans summit held in Thessaloniki on 21 June. The summit agreed a shared agenda for the development of relations between the EU and the countries of the region. It clarified the commitment of the EU to the long-term future of the region and the obligations on the individual democratic governments if they are to meet the objective of eventual membership of the European Union.
In our discussions, Ireland took the lead on the issue of Albania's relations with its neighbours in the western Balkans region, including the positive role which Albania is playing in helping to reduce continuing political tensions, particularly the situation in Kosovo. I assured Prime Minister Nano that the EU would continue to work closely with all the countries in the region to overcome the legacy of conflict, to promote economic development and to build democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law. I had the opportunity in a meeting in New York last week to review progress in relations with Albania with President Alfred Moisiu. I assured President Moisiu that the development of relations with the countries of the western Balkans would remain an important foreign policy priority for the EU during Ireland's Presidency in 2004.
Dáil Éireann 571 Written Answers. Official Engagements.