This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.afp.al
By Plator Nesturi
Finally, we see light at the end of the tunnel as far as the launch of accession talks for Albania are concerned. Following the numerous delays of the past few months as a result of the political crisis that had affected the country’s institutions, the decision coming from Brussels provides renewed hopes for the start of the process of negotiations. The decision which is expected to be taken in spring, will first of all undergo scrutiny by the EU’s structures to determine the extent Albania has applied the laws concerning the fight against organized crime and corruption, judicial reform, property rights, human rights, etc. Europeans once again say that the launch of accession talks will depend on how responsible the political class is.
This decision may be viewed as a big achievement for Albania and its citizens and the political class should feel appreciated for the contribution it supposedly gave for this success to be achieved. But, the truth is different. Once again, our country, whose numerous problems can hardly make it a democratic society, is being tolerated by the magnanimity of the international community. Meanwhile, our political elite is still receiving numerous complaints by the Europeans due to the dysfunctional democracy that exists in Albania. But, how did they favor us once more and how come we were not penalized? What could have happened in the political arena if the accession process would be postponed once again and what consequences could this have in the country’s path to EU accession? But, the final outcome was a positive one and we need to ponder a little on how this was achieved to be able to understand everything that happened.
Up until a year ago, the Albanian government was not in the good books of the European institutions. Reform in justice, corruption and the spreading of cannabis, accompanied by serious problems with the parliamentary elections, provoked much criticism by certain countries and it looked as if the decision to launch the talks would be postponed again. But it seems that strategies have also interfered with the criteria that the EU imposes upon its member countries. It’s true that Albania reflected problems as a state, but it did function as a democracy, despite the shortcomings. Albanian leaders were not just some capricious men who made no concessions to each other, but they didn’t have the sense of responsibility for their country either. And when everyone thought that Albanians would “learn” about democracy through the “stick” (by increasing the number of criteria to be delivered), quite the opposite happened. EU officials expressed their readiness to allow Albania to advance in its integrating processes. It looks like the empty spaces in the EU’s map could also be exploited by other actors, thus, at this time of rivalry, Brussels aim is to welcome the quarrelsome and problematic Balkan countries in its arms too. But, this would happen in two stages and in two different speeds. Serbia and Montenegro are the favorite ones. Meanwhile, Albania, which up until a few years ago was seen as the most favorite one to become part of the EU, will now belong to the second group along with Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia. For the time being, we must just be happy with the fact that we are launching the talks, although we don’t yet know when the finish line will come. Meanwhile, Serbia and Montenegro know that until 2025, they can sit as equals in the EU’s table.
In conclusion, we can say that we managed to obtain a positive assessment, not because of our merits as a state, society or political class, but because we argued so much with each other for a year, that we were able to set the worst example that democracy may not function even in a European country.
On the other hand, the government and Albanians must thank the intervention of other countries, which intimidated Europeans so much and spared the majority from receiving a slap on the hand regarding the problems with the elections, reforms which are not moving forward and the spreading of cannabis all over the country.
In the end, the expression “from loss to defeat” must no longer be used in Albania, because we have always failed to build the future of this country on our own, but foreigners have not allowed us to destroy ourselves. The latest case of this tolerance shown by the EU is the best example for this.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy