Increase of Chinese, Russian and Turkish Influence in Balkans Is a Myth

"I am not optimistic or pessimistic, just realistic. I know, everyone knows that this does not depend on us, but on the European Union, "said Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in an interview with ANSA released by local media on Sunday during which he drew the attention that the hearsay on increase of Chinese, Turkish and Arab influence in Balkans is a myth.

Rama said that answering a question on the ongoing delays in the opening of EU accession negotiations of Albania and North Macedonia, as well as the possible consequences in the Balkans and the EU in case of further reluctance. He said that Albania has done everything to be part of the European Union, but continues to be blocked due to the veto that Bulgaria has imposed on North Macedonia.

According to him, the EU membership has no alternatives and the "Open Balkans" initiative, supported by Belgrade, Tirana and Skopje, which resumed in late July, is certainly not an alternative to the EU. "There is no and there can be no substitute for European integration. On the contrary, the 'Open Balkans' initiative is a new tool to accelerate the integration process."

Asked by the Italian journalist if he sees the influence of China, Russia and Turkey in the Balkans as an opportunity or a danger, Rama said that this is more of a myth than a reality for Albanians.

"Increasing Chinese, Russian, Turkish and Arab influence in the Balkans is more of a myth than a reality for Albania and Albanians. There is no influence that can change our European membership. Europe is a religion for us and, beyond any disappointment, we want to be part of it in all aspects, such as our choice and profession," Rama replied.

Regarding the sheltering of Afghans, Rama said that Albania was the only country in Europe where there were more Jews after the Second World War, it received half a million war refugees fleeing the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo and now the Albanians, who were the Afghans in front of the coast of Italy 30 years ago, are welcoming Afghans refugees.

In the meantime, Rama announced on Sunday in a note on Twitter that the number of Afghans stands at 457 for the moment. According to his earlier announcement in foreign media PM Rama predicted that Albania will shelter 4000 refugees who are supposed to stay one year before leaving for the US. /