Progress Report or lack of Progress?

Progress Report or lack of Progress?

IBNA Special Report/Brussels’ report on Albania in the framework for integration, is read in different forms by politicians and heads of institutions in the country. But, what is admitted by everyone is the fact that in spite of the promise of Europeans in June, that negotiations could be launched within this year, this is not the case. What’s more, no close date has been determined. It seems that everything depends on the EU’s five priorities, for the completion of which, even the Albanian government doesn’t have a date

Tirana, October 9, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

The head of the European Union Delegation to Tirana, ambassador Romana Vlahutin, officially delivered yesterday in Tirana, the 2014 Progress Report of the European Commission on Albania.

In the political party, the report appeals for dialogue between the government and opposition and demands the latter to stop the parliamentary boycott. The government-says the report- has the responsibility of creating all the necessary conditions for the opposition to play its overseeing role in parliament.

Reacting on this point, prime minister Edi Rama expresses his readiness for dialogue with the opposition and suggests to it to clarify what it demands from the majority.

In response, the democrat leader, Lulzim Basha said that the opposition wants an agreement with the government “which would solve once and for all the sovereignty of the rulings of the Constitutional Court, the decriminalization of the Parliament of Albania and the entire public administration”.

The report doesn’t mention any dates for the opening of negotiations. It clarifies that the opening of negotiations for accession in the EU, is conditioned by the fulfillment of the five remaining priorities: The creation of a professional and nonpolitical administration, the strengthening of the independence of the justice institutions, fight against corruption, fight against organized crime and the protection of human rights. The Albanian government has not given any concrete dates for their fulfillment.

Vlahutin: We identify achievements and challenges

The head of the European Union delegation to Tirana, Romana Vlahutin says that the progress report on Albania confirms the positive progress of the reforms pointed out in the June report. “The Commission has pointed out the achievements, but it has also underlined the challenges that relate to the political dialogue, reform in the public administration, reform in the judicial system, fight against organized crime and corruption and human rights.” For ambassador Vlahutin, the candidate status means more work and responsibility. She encourages for work to continue in order to meet the priorities set by the EU, the rule of law, economic governing and the reform in the public administration.

Nishani: Consolidation of the rule of law

President of the Republic, Bujar Nishani says that Albanians have realized that the process of European integration is a process that belongs to them. He believes that all actors must play their part. For the president, it’s important “to establish and consolidate rule of law in Albania”. He says that he will be “active and always engaged in all reforms that will be taken in this field”.

Rama: The report confirms the concrete achievements of the government

Prime minister Edi Rama says that “the report confirms the positive evaluation of the European Commission for the concrete achievements of the government and the will of the government to prove the holding of modernizing reforms with facts”.

“On the other hand, the report clearly shows the path toward the opening of negotiations for accession by meeting the five key priorities, which have turned into an action plan for the government”, said Mr. Rama.

He says that the measures that the government is taking are not being taken just because the EU is asking them, “but because to us, it’s very important for law to rule in Albania and the life of the citizens not to be prevented by corruption”.

Gjosha: Proof that we’re in the right path

Minister of European Integration, Klajda Gjosha says that the report must serve for the Albanian government as a clear guideline to meet all the necessary obligations and standards in order to advance in the EU perspective. “The progress report is another testimony that we’re in the right path, but, on the other hand, it’s a document that obliges all actors to unite in this major process for the country”, says Gjosha.

Bushati: The report is realistic

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ditmir Bushati, considers the report as realistic. He says that Albania has a unique chance to consolidate the implementation of reforms through political cooperation, something which will lead the country toward the next phase, the start of accession talks.

“The EC recommendations fully comply with the will of the government to hold the reform in justice, the strengthening of the rule of law, fight against corruption and organized crime”, says Mr. Bushati.

Three key elements that must be born in mind

The European report on Albania doesn’t only request the holding of reforms, but their implementation too. This is the only way for Brussels to look into the steps that Albania will make in its EU perspective. In fact, this is what Albanians need the most, laws which don’t on paper, but laws which are applied.

But, what are the three key elements which must be taken into account in the future?

First of all, it’s the rule of law and this is “very crucial”, like ambassador Vlahutin stressed. It’s also the reform in the justice system, fight against corruption and organized crime.

Secondly, Albania must realize the reform in the public administration. This is equally important, in order to create the necessary capacities, for Albania to address all that it’s demanded from it and to have the necessary capacities to absorb all the assistance that the EU will give in the future.

Thirdly, there must be a new concept of economic well governing, through which the European Union can help aspiring countries, but the EU is expecting to see how and how much this economic well governing will be achieved.

Greek minority: Steps backward have been marked this year

Unity for Human Rights Party, an ally party in Rama’s government, expressed its regret today about the fact that “this year, there have been steps backward, in the case of the administrative-territorial reform and the political representation of the members of the minority”.

The head of UHRP says that the drafting of an integral law for the rights of minorities remains a challenge and this is extremely urgent. Dule says that “the government is playing deaf and communicates to partners the creation of nonexistent work groups”.

In this point, UHRP suggests that “it’s time to redimension policies on human rights and in particular, the members of ethnic minorities, not with slogans and demagogy, but through European standard practices”.

Immunity agreement with the USA is a problem to the EU

Albania still maintains a 2003 bilateral immunity agreement with the United States, granting exemptions for US citizens from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. In doing so, it is not complying with the EU Common Positions on the integrity of the Rome Statute or with the related EU guiding principles on bilateral immunity agreements. Albania needs to align with the EU position, says the Report: “Albania needs to align with the EU position on the integrity of the Rome Statute and with the related EU guiding principles on bilateral immunity agreements”.

As far as other critical points over international relations, the report notes that there hasn’t yet been a bilateral agreement in place over regional cooperation, neither with Serbia, nor with Montenegro.

No date for the launch of accession talks, citizens are still waiting

In its report, the European Commission has not issued a date for the launch of accession talks. In June, high EU representatives said in Tirana that the opening of negotiations within this year was possible if the priorities were met. Minister of Integration, Klajda Gjosha says that Brussels has left the five priorities as a condition for the next challenge in the process of the integration of the country, the launch of negotiations. The EU is also discreet about the date and the government doesn’t know what to say as to when the five priorities will be met.

Leader of the opposition, Lulzim Basha, says that “the report doesn’t mention any reference or suggests anything on the launch of negotiations. Basha sees it as the key to the acceleration of the integration, “in order for the majority to take measures to fully respect the overseeing role of the opposition in parliament without any delays”.

The citizens seem fed up with the long delays in the process of integration. An IBNA’s vox-pop in Tirana with several citizens of different ages and professions, points out the significant fall of interest for the EU accession. Some believe that the entry in the EU now that the union has been in a crisis for several years, bears very little interest for Albania. They say that the best chance for the country was at the end of ‘90s and start of 2000, when other former communist countries entered the Union and as a result of which, today they enjoy high standards of living. “Europeans themselves, especially MEPs, have made it clear that the EU doesn’t have a lot to offer to aspiring countries at a time of crisis, therefore, they must focus more on improving the living standards of their citizens by realizing reforms, instead of meeting the accession criteria and realizing reforms that cause social wounds, just because they are demanded from the international community”, says an economy professor in Tirana. /ibna/

Albania Progress Report

On the photo: Prime minister Edi Rama and representatives of the European Union in the central hall of the Albanian Council of Ministers, looking at the ancient map of Europe