The agreement with Italy for the treatment of several thousand migrants from the Mediterranean was prepared by a joint group of experts and, after being signed by the two prime ministers, will be passed for ratification by the Albanian Parliament.
This is what Prime Minister Edi Rama declared during a televised interview on Report TV on Tuesday evening. He emphasized that Albania has had requests of this nature from other European countries, but has been closed to this idea.
“When Italy asks us for something, then it is different. A joint group of experts from security to European jurisprudence, discussed for a long time, exchanged drafts and in the end we agreed on the text of the agreement, which was signed, approved by the government and after that we will take it to the Parliament for ratification. We are neighbors. A sea separates us. We are, so to speak, on a front. Such an agreement with a country far from us does not make sense”, said Mr. Rama.
He said that this agreement does not constitute any personal favor, but is a strategic approach to a strategic partner of Albania such as Italy.
Mr. Rama said that it is not about any uncontrolled and extraordinary influx, as North Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia had in 2015, but Albania is facing a modest flow of only three thousand people, when it welcomed nine million tourists this year. .
Prime Minister Rama added that this political noise is made in Italy for the sole reason that Albania is not in the European Union.
“The center in Albania will be according to EU criteria, like those in Greece, where there are a number of centers, which do not affect its tourism. Albania is not a country of the EU, but it will be a country of the EU very soon, as Chancellor Scholz has said, and in this case it has behaved as if it were a member of the EU”, said Mr. Rama, recalling and NATO membership years ago.
He said that there is no possibility that three thousand people will affect the area in terms of security, and that there will be no deposit of people there, while the capacity of the center is three thousand.
The only impact on the area, according to him, will be food and service to the center as a new customer. No single children or pregnant women will come to the center, they will remain in Italy with their families.
“This year there were people from all nationalities in Lezha. Several options were studied based on a dozen criteria of logistics, security, etc., and the site was decided next to the military ward of the Gjadri airport. Albania provides the space, but has no direct responsibility. The whole operation is managed by Italy, as well as the funds”, said Mr. Rama.
He said that the two countries have a special relationship, while emphasizing that in moral terms Albanians owe a lot to Italy.
“Years ago, we were Africans of the sea, when we flocked by ship to Italy. We then seemed as alien as those who come from Africa seem to some today. This can be forgiven to anyone, but we are not forgiven”, said Mr. Rama.
He and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni signed in Rome a week ago an agreement on migration, to set up by next spring a center to receive migrants from Africa and the Middle East, who aim for Italy via the Mediterranean Sea.
The agreement was met with doubts and criticism in Rome and Tirana, according to which Italy is trying to avoid international obligations related to the right of asylum.
The Council of Europe, the European Commission and the UNCHR have also raised doubts and uncertainties about the signed agreement for the construction of a reception center for migrants from Africa in Albanian territory.
They have asked for explanations on its details, for which no prior consultations have been made and it shifts the responsibilities of asylum outside an EU member state, endangering the human rights of migrants.