This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.albanianfreepress.al
By Plator Nesturi
June remains an important milestone which will determine Albania’s pace in its path of integration in order to join the European Union democratic values. The European Union issued an unconditional recommendation for Albania, therefore it would be a sin to waste this opportunity. While there is fear for a postponement of the decision to open negotiations, debate continues on the people who should be blamed about the blocking. The ones who are being blamed the most are the opposition and European leaders. Foreign chancelleries are interested to see what steps are being taken by Albanian politicians and how serious they are in these steps. What remains to be seen is if Albania will express a growing interest for the EU. We need to establish if we’re interested to become part of the EU for the simple fact that we’re part of the geography of the European continent, or whether it’s something more than this.
Nearly 95% of Albanians want Albania to become part of Europe as soon as possible. But 27 years have gone by from this aspiration and it’s in our own right to ask: when will we ever become part of the Union? But we forget to raise another problem: must Europe accept us as we are, with our good and bad things, or must we be more European and more dedicated students in order to embrace the values of Western democracy? The European Union has a clear plan and vision for its future and expansion and in this aspect, Albania cannot remain outside of its map. But in spite of this “certain” destination, this must not turn us into “thick hillbillies”, who can barely embrace the principles of the rule of law, democracy and tolerance, which are at the very foundation of European values.
The essence of debates in the recent years has only focused on how much the EU recommendations have been delivered in order to give way to the process of accession talks and not how we are adapting to them or on understanding that this process is not only the responsibility of the government, but of the entire society. It is a fact that for both the left in power and the right wing in opposition, in spite of their conflicts, which have often been aggravated and unfounded, the path toward Brussels with EU accession as objective, remains a clear priority, therefore the challenge for the delivery of the five priorities which are needed for the integration path, doesn’t only belong to the majority. The implementation of the administration reform, the independence of judicial institutions, fight against corruption, protection of human rights and right of property ownership are the last priorities before the test that the political class must pass in Brussels. For the first time, the priorities no longer include political dialogue and well-functioning of parliamentary life, interaction and joint responsibility in drafting laws and the well-functioning of the state. This point, which had often turned into a deadlock in the tasks written out by the EU for our political class, seems to have been overcome and without any doubt, this is a joint achievement for the majority and opposition.
What remains to be seen now is whether things will continue in this path or the old shadows will appear once again through artificial tension. The EU has reduced the number of obligations for accession, but it hasn’t put down its guard and it will continue to monitor the behavior of the political class and how laws passed in parliament are applied. In this aspect, the responsibility for the decision falls on everyone, but credit for the decision will also be taken by everyone, be them left or right wing.
However, the opening of negotiations is an interim station. The journey to destination, to EU accession is long, tiring and difficult. Nonetheless, it is the only path and this must drive our political class.
Note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy