EU progress report prompts debates and political accusations in Albania

EU progress report prompts debates and political accusations in Albania

Tirana, 11 November 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

In Albania, the Progress Report which shows whether the country has or hasn’t made progress in delivering the EU accession criteria, was associated with debates and political accusations in the country.

Leader of opposition, Lulzim Basha accused PM Edi Rama as the responsible person for the failure to launch the talks. According to Basha, European aspirations have nothing in common with the reality of the people that are impoverished and of a government which becomes richer every day.

Meanwhile, the head of the government believes that Albania has made progress in delivering the five priorities which give way to the launch of accession talks.

This year’s progress report issued by the European Commission, praises the reforms delivered during a year, but based on a new method of assessment which is applied for the first time and which includes the commitment of the countries that aspire accession. The political criterion of the report praises the will and ongoing efforts to deliver the reforms.

This progress report confirms that the path for the start of accession talks goes through the reform in the justice system, which today remains the biggest challenge for the Albanian society and the state in the path toward EU integration.

Are other priorities being added?

Summarizing the report into one phrase, the EU ambassador, Romana Vlahutin said that “Albania has made sustainable progress in the key priorities which will lead to the start of accession talks”.

Vlahutin said that there hasn’t been any pause or steps backwards in the implementation of the EU reforms. Vlahutin said that there are a number of ongoing reforms.

This report clearly shows that the most important thing relates to the judiciary system. Vlahutin pointed out that in Albania, authorities must conduct investigations, prosecutions and convict those people who are involved in organized crime and corruption of all levels.

The report once again brings to the attention the five famous criteria: Reform in the justice system, anti-corruption measures, full application of the civil service legislation, protection of basic human rights and regulation of property law.

But besides these five criteria, Vlahutin also announced fresh criteria yesterday from Tirana: “Besides these, it’s very important to finalize the legislation which relates to the integrity of people or individuals who apply for a public office”, the EU ambassador said.

Another point is for the government to address “all OSCE/ODIHR recommendations for the elections”. As far as economic governing is concerned, Vlahutin said that there must be great efforts to consolidate the taxation system for the business environment and informal economy”.

In order to improve Albania’s competition, Vlahutin comes up with another priority, important investments must be made for the human and physical capital. Vlahutin added that: “You are not alone on this. EU has significant IPA funds to assist you”.

Why is the “earthquake” in the judiciary system taking so long?

The EU progress report for Albania was a slap for the judiciary system. In several occasions, PM Rama had declared that in Autumn, the judiciary system would be shaken of its foundation. But has this operation started?

Rama is again convinced that this Autumn will bring the “earthquake”: “In Autumn, we will have the package needed to shake and demolish a corrupted and rotten system which has acted so much at the detriment of every citizen and our country, that every representative of the international community has rubbed it on our face”. Rama says that the package is ready and that the government is waiting for the Venice Commission to have its say.

Rama: EU path goes through the justice system

After receiving the progress report, Mr. Rama appeared in front of the media to offer his feedback on it. Rama was hopeful that “if the justice system is finalized without wasting any precious time, we will have the green light for the start of the accession talks”.

Meanwhile, he also commented the fact that the negotiations haven’t started yet by making comparisons to other countries: “If other countries have launched the talks and are negotiation for the accession, they are not in front of us at all, on the contrary, we are at the same level, with the difference that our reform in the justice system is at  the core of this process. We must advance with it and finalize it. This will give way to the EU accession talks”, Rama said.

Basha: Rama is responsible for the failure to launch negotiations, civil disobedience

For the leader of the opposition, Rama is to be blamed for the failure to launch EU accession talks. “On 21 June, Rama organized undemocratic elections and mined the electoral process, as it was demonstrated by the ODIHR report and repeated by the European Commission”.

Basha also mentions other points, which according to him, slowed integration down. Among them, there’s the blocked process of the decriminalization of institutions, “the abuse with 777 million euros in the  CEZ affair and the fact that “several corrupted ministers are held in the government”.

In this point, for Mr. Basha, time has come “to show the government and Rama-Meta majority their place by civil disobedience, by killing fear and by taking the fates of the country in our own hands, as Europeans through democratic processes”.

Dr. Islami: European Commission’s “Regress” report

Former speaker of Parliament, Prof. Dr. Kastriot Islami, currently an MP, sees the EC progress report as a report which shows Albania’s regress. Several times minister and deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Islami believes that Europe “rubbed on Rama’s face the refusal to give way to the EU accession talks”.

“The most used words in the Progress Report, as never before, was the word Corruption. Albania is considered to be the most corrupted country in Europe and more corrupted than in 1991”, Dr. Islami notes. /ibna/

Progress Report on Albania: “There is and there isn’t progress”

Key findings of the 2015 report on Albania

Albania Report 2015