TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL
By now the staunch French refusal to go forward with even symbolic milestones of enlargement as well as the remaining skepticism of the Netherlands and Denmark are clear and tangible. The meeting at the Council of the European Union has very little chance of producing a surprising outcome since the majority of the signals are negative.
In the face of yet another missed opportunity, domestic majority politicians have already geared up their alibis: it is Europe’s fault! It is the internal situation of the EU, the position of France and even personal crusade of Emmanuel Macron, it is the myths of the Dutch media, it is the aloofness of Denmark towards our region…The list goes on.
There are elements of truth in this alibi as in every alibi. Of course the situation of the EU does not help. There are multiple other focal points counting the much more pressing matters of looming Brexit, security concerns of the situation in Syria and lack of unity between member states over several pending issues.
But you know what else does not help? The situation in Albania. It is exactly what even all the most ardent supporters of the opening accession negotiations including Commissioner Hahn has said in this very same words. The situation of Albania is not helping!
It might be that France’s historic myopia towards Albania limits its concerns over the number of asylum seekers. However those numbers do point to one salient truth: the crisis that is raging in Albania even though many internal and external key actors continue to pretend to ignore it. A political crisis that has left the country bereft of any democratic or even constitutional order. A set of local elections inspired by monism three decades after the fall of communism. An unrepresentative and even ridiculous parliament. No Constitutional Court. No High Court. A majority that spends most of its energy on impeaching the President, the last standing yet truncated figure in the checks and balances game.
In the background the economic stagnation, lack of hope and utter disappointment sends droves of Albanians, young, educated, uneducated, abroad. Some of them end up seeking asylum in France. Apparently enough of them to jump in the statistics Syrians notwithstanding.
The decision to delay the opening of accession negotiations for Albania is still the wrong one. It will take away whatever hope is left that change might come. However if there is to be one silver lining in this development it is in the soul searching that should follow to arrive at a correct understanding and reflection. This is important first and foremost for the country itself, for its future whether there is any integration perspective left or not. Even if we are to stick to the narrative of troubled and undecided Europe, we still have to draw a path forward for Albania’s own destiny.
The recognition of the fact that unless the normal democratic institutional system starts working again, we cannot pretend to be a normal country that is taking progressive steps towards accession.
We are not there yet. This is not Europe’s fault.