The Foreign Ministry in Sofia has hit out at Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama over what it called his “new, unprovoked, openly anti-Bulgarian” statements at the Bled Strategic Forum.
Speaking at the forum on August 29, Rama said that it was not true that Russia’s war on Ukraine had accelerated the “yes” to Albania’s European Union accession negotiations.
“The war didn’t accelerate anything, because the ‘yes, for Albania was there, if Bulgaria was not to be there. But Bulgaria is of course there and it kidnapped both North Macedonia and Albania long time ago, while all other member states were ready to say ‘Yes’ to Albania after eight years,” Rama said, according to a transcript posted on the English-language version of the Albanian government website.
“In other words it was Bulgaria and not Russia to trigger this. It was a Nato country that kidnapped two other Nato members while the war started,” the transcript quoted Rama as saying.
“May be, this war made our European friends, especially [French] President Emanuel Macron, who was also the President of the European Council at that period of time, be keener to lose his sleep. I was meeting him hours ahead of the Nato summit to convince Bulgarians that this was not a good idea and it was resolved,” Rama said.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said on August 31 that the statement that Bulgaria had blocked the beginning of Albania’s EU membership negotiations for eight years was false.
This was “unacceptable and unseemly behaviour of a Prime Minister of a candidate country for EU membership,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already expressed its position regarding Edi Rama’s anti-Bulgarian rhetoric, which has become a permanent refrain of his political speech. Now it is combined with an anti-European focus and an attempt to demean the mechanisms of the European process,” the ministry said
The statements reveal misunderstandings about the political meaning of the process of putting relations in the region on a European track, it said.
Obviously, this is a question of either a lack of European communication skills or a purposeful incitement of anti-European sentiments, the ministry said.
“Bulgaria reserves the right to react in an appropriate way to the behaviour of the Albanian Prime Minister, following the principles of international and European law,” the statement said.
(Photo of Rama via the Albanian government website)
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