The official visit of the Austrian Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg, broght the debate on the opening of negotiations and the conditions imposed on Albania to the forefront of conversations.

The head of Austrian diplomacy expressed support for Albania's integration into the EU, while his Albanian counterpart, Gent Cakaj, showed conviction when he claimed the country has already fulfilled its duties.

Acting Foreign Minister Cakaj said he is working hand-in-hand with the European Union member states to garner support for the opening of negotiations on October 18th.

At a press conference with his Austrian counterpart, Cakaj gave this answer when asked if he feared a vote against Albania by the Netherlands.

“I want to say that we are working hand in hand to secure votes in Albania's favor. I am not afraid of the votes against, but I am strongly committed to garnering the votes needed,” said Cakaj.

Referring to his meeting with the Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg, Minister Cakaj said that Austria-- as one of Albania's four strategic partners-- is one of the key supporters of our country's European journey; in particular, with the opening of membership negotiations.

During the conference with his Albanian counterpart, The Austrian Foreign Minister stated that Austria will donate 200,000 euros to Albanian families affected by the earthquake.

The Minister then focused on the issue of negotiations, where he stressed that next week will be decisive one. According to him, Austria has made its position on negotiations clear. Stating:

“Next week will be a very decisive one. Austria has made its position clear: We want Albania and North Macedonia to open negotiations.

“We are ahead of difficult discussions. You know that there is no unanimity in the Council yet. We have a strong position.

“It is a difficult task for Albania to assume the OSCE chairmanship at the end of this year-- it is a difficult task but you can count on us,” he said.

The Austrian Foreign Minister also stopped to meet with the opposition leader, Lulzim Basha, for more than an hour where Basha stated that Albania is on the march and is jeopardizing the integration process.

“Rama has failed,” he said, “and he cannot hide it by attacking European countries.”

Meanwhile, the rather smoothly-run electoral process in Kosovo, which according to politicians, sets an example for Albania, was not absent from mind.

The Austrian Foreign Minister was also received at a meeting by President Ilir Meta, who praised the cooperation between the two countries.