Albania, 5 months away from the final decision of accession negotiations

In June last year, Albania failed to open accession negotiations with the European Union.

The Albanian government did not assess it as a rejection of the decision by the EU, but acknowledged that there were a number of conditions to be fulfilled until next year.

The main topic was the advancement of the re-evaluation process of judges and prosecutors, the establishment of new justice institutions and the fight against corruption and organized crime.

EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca recalls in an interview given to an Albanian media that we’re still five months away from the decision to open or not the accession negotiations.

But although the Albanian government declared last month the maximum commitment to meet additional conditions, it seems that more than half of the year has gone without productivity, while Rama’s government has faced numerous protests, consecutive denunciations by the opposition and a series of so-called “scandals”.

And if all these were not enough, at the most critical moment of Albania’s EU integration process, Prime Minister Edi Rama decided to dismiss the chief diplomat Ditmir Bushati unexpectedly, a move that seemed to surprise even his political opponents.

-The first condition is that the Vetting process in Albania has continued without interruption, although it does not depend on the government, this process has been criticized for the slow pace of re-evaluation of judges and prosecutors, which blocked for a while the creation of new bodies already established like High Council of Justice and High Prosecuterial Council, thus delaying the progress of the second condition.

-The establishment of the new justice bodies, namely the Special Anti-Corruption and Organized Crime Structure (SPAK), the National Bureau of Investigation (BKH) and the Court.

Bodies that will investigate and crack down on organized crime and corruption on the highest scales have not yet been established. The road seems open to their establishment, with the formation of the High Council of Justice and High Prosecuterial Council. But will they be able to emerge within five months to start the fight against corruption and organized crime, which is also the third condition? It remains to be seen.

-Strengthen the process of proactive investigations, prosecutions and final punishments in the fight against corruption and organized crime, including even the high level.

“Big Fish”that is how the former US Ambassador Donald Lu called it. We are all aware that so far no big fish has ever fallen into the net. Even those directors accused of corruption seem to have managed to break through the net of justice. The same can be said of organized crime. “The Power of Law”campaign kicked off by former Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj, gave visible results with some sensational operations to crack down on criminal groups, and was greeted and supported by internationals. But with Xhafaj’s departure, the “Force of Law” ceased to work.

Addressing the recommendations of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the significant reduction of a number of asylum seekers in EU countries are some other conditions.

The European Commission is closely monitoring Albania’s efforts to meet the conditions. But has Albania achieved enough to open the negotiations while it is five months away from the final decision?

“The June decision to open negotiations with the EU depends on the actions that Albania will continue to undertake in the 5 coming months,” Soreca said.

 /Klara Ruci/

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