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Head of EU Enlargement urges Albania to continues reforming and fighting corruption

TIRANA, Mar. 7 – Although the next decision on whether the EU will open negotiations with Albania will be taken in June, EU officials are not yet convinced of the government’s progress regarding the country’s fight against crime and corruption, demanding that the process in these areas continues.

EU Enlargement Director General Christian Danielsson urged Prime Minister Edi Rama on Thursday to pursue reforms in all areas, and in particular in the fight against crime and corruption, for Albania’s bid to be convincing in June.

“Very opening conversation with Prime Minister Edi Rama on the current political situation and reforms. Albania has to continue to deliver in all reform areas, and in particular on fighting crime and corruption, to make a convincing case in June, when EU member states will review the process,” Danielsson wrote on his Twitter account.

Under Rama’s governance, Albania has been denied the opening of accession negotiations three times so far.

During his visit to Albania, Danielsson met with a number of political actors from different sides of the political spectrum, as well as members of the Justice Appointment Council, where full EU support for their independent and impartial work was reiterated.

During his meeting with opposition representatives who have resigned their parliamentary mandates and are holding national anti-government protests for almost three weeks now, Danielsson was in line with previous EU representatives’ statements condemning the oppositions resignation from parliament.

“Constructive meeting with representatives from opposition parties on the current political situation. Albania faces challenges but the only democratic way to solve issues remains to engage in Parliament. Incitement to violent actions in protests is absolutely unacceptable,” he wrote, referring to the last protest the opposition called when the government held an out-of-order parliamentary session.

During that protest, some protesters threw rocks at the parliament’s hall and attempted to physically stop two Socialist MPs who were late for the session enter the building, however police also used tear gas against the crowd that was gathered there.

At a press conference for the media, Danielsson highlighted that constructive dialogue among all sides is necessary.

“It is a misfortune that Albania is in the trap, let’s say due to its lack of stability. Political forces must fight for common reforms. Responsible leadership is necessary to bring the country closer to the EU. As far as the opposition is concerned, I have emphasized that the decision of the members to collectively burn their mandates undermines Albania’s EU path. Uncertainty must be overcome urgently. The parliament is the pillar of the state, the engine of every mature democracy.”
For this reason, Danielsson emphasized the need for cooperation.  

“I think it should be emphasized what Mogherini and Hahn said, that this boycott is counter productive and undermines the integration processes. It is important for these protests to be peaceful and those who organize them to be restrained and not to incite violence,” Danielsson said.

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