TIRANA, Albania, June 19, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --
Ditmir Bushati, Albania's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Europe, today welcomed a joint letter from the nation's top religious leaders seeking French and German support for the start of EU accession negotiations.
The letter, addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, was signed by the leaders of Albania's Muslim, Autocephalous Orthodox, Catholic, Betashi and Evangelical Christian communities.
In a meeting with the five leaders Monday, Mr. Bushati thanked them for their commitment to the European future of Albania and praised them for the "maintenance of religious harmony and strengthening of social cohesion" in the nation.
The signatories to the joint letter are: H. Skënder Bruçaj, Head of the Muslim Community, Archbishop (Prof. Dr) Anastasios of Tirana-Durrës and all Albania (Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania), Msgr. Gjergj Meta, General Secretary of Albanian Bishops' Conference (Catholic Church), H. Dede Edmond Brahimaj, World Bektashi Headquarters, and Pastor Ylli Doçi, Chairman of the Evangelical Alliance of Albania.
The letter comes in advance of a meeting of the European Council June 28-29 in Brussels. The Council, representing all EU heads of government, is expected to vote on a European Commission recommendation that formal talks towards accession be opened with Albania and Macedonia.
The letter appeals to the French and German leaders to support the Commission's recommendations. The text follows:
"At this moment of great historical significance, we wish to underscore once again what we recently stated in our joint declaration of 21 April 2018: we Albanians are part of Europe. We are part of a history that stretches back to the origins of Europe. It is a history which goes back thousands of years. Our common cultural and social roots bind us together. We believe that our path towards the European Union represents what has always been the desire of our people, with the values of a free society where everyone is able to exercise their rights, among which the right of freedom of religion and belief is fundamental. We are grateful to God that the history of the Albanian people has revealed a consistent living-out of the value of respect for religious difference, living together harmoniously as one family.
"Our path toward the European Union is especially critical for our youth. Albanian young people are among the most Euro-enthusiastic anywhere, and yet they are also among the most frustrated, as they live in close proximity to their European peers and yet are excluded from their peers' opportunities. Your support to Albania's accession process is particularly important at this critical time, when the values of tolerance, solidarity, and human rights are under great pressure because of radicalism, fanaticism, and other sinister ideologies. We together call upon you to recognize the earnest desire of all Albanians, and to support our irreversible commitment to Albania as part of Europe.
"With fervent prayers, we reaffirm our commitment to remain steadfast supporters of European values for society with freedom, justice and prosperity for all."
Mr. Bushati said Albania's religious leaders exemplified why Albania needs now to move forward on its path towards European integration. "You have given the most meaningful example that we are Europeans and now is the right moment for each of us to follow this example," he said. He singled out the leaders' reference to Albania's young, stating that they in particular are counting on EU integration "so they can build their own futures in their own country, the same as their peers."
SOURCE Government of Albania