The European Parliament has drafted a Resolution on the Annual Report for Albania. This resolution includes 18 amendments of the compromise out of 231 that MEPs had submitted on the document prepared by rapporteur Knut Fleckenstein. This resolution will soon be passed for voting in the European Parliament. Above all, it encourages the finalization of the electoral code.
The resolution calls on Albania to approve the necessary legal framework for the protection of ethnic minorities. It also demands authorities to ratify the European Charter on Regional and Minority Languages.
The resolution stresses that good neighboring relations are a criteria for the process of enlargement and stabilization and association. The amendment “points out the recent frictions in the relations between Albania and Greece and recommends the two sides to avoid any action or declaration that can have a negative impact on them”.
With a special amendment, MEP Notis Maria “asks the Albanian government to respect the Greek ethnic minority in Northern Epirus”, as he calls it “and immediately stop the unlawful seizure of the properties of Greeks in the region of Himara”.
However, the paragraphs agreed by the main political groups make up for the basis of the text of the draft resolution for Albania. The special amendments of MEPs will also be submitted to voting, initially on Tuesday in the foreign European parliament committee and in mid February, in a plenary session in Strasbourg.
Five key priorities
The first amendment makes it clear that “the full and timely implementation of the reforms for the five key priorities and the sustainable political engagement are crucial in further advancing with the process of accession in the EU” and the country is encouraged to prove “a solid trail of evidence” on these reforms.
As far as the political class is concerned, the report talks about “mutual trust”, “the creation of an appropriate political dialogue” and “the achievement of constructive cooperation”. Ahead of the elections, the report encourages the finalization of the reviewing of the electoral code. It also demands for people with criminal records not to be part of the candidate lists.
Another amendment of the compromise calls on the Ad-Hoc Commission of the Albanian Parliament for the electoral reform, to finalize without any obstacles, the reviewing of the electoral code. The amendment demands for all previous recommendations of OSCE-ODIHR to be handled. It also demands for more transparency in the process of party funding and “integrity of the electoral process”.
The amendment stresses that all political parties have a responsibility to guarantee democratic elections in line with international standards.
The amendment also demands from authorities to secure the independence and depoliticization of the electoral administration.
The amendment also demands from the state to encourage civil society organization to take an active part in overseeing the entire electoral process.
“Free and honest elections are critical for Albania’s advancement in the EU accession process”, the amendment underlines.
The amendment calls on political parties to respect the law on the exclusion of people with criminal records from public posts, when drafting their candidate lists for the upcoming elections and calls for a full application of this law.
13 amendments address the issue of justice and they request “a credible application of the law for the reevaluation of judges, prosecutors and legal advisors”.
The resolution also expresses its regret for the political interventions and a number of other shortcomings.
It also expresses its “regret that the judicial administration continues to be inefficient and slow”.
The amendment expresses its regret for the political intervention in judicial cases, therefore it calls on a real strengthening of the independence of the judicial system.
The resolution says that corruption “remains a serious problem”.
“The approval of the key parts of the legislation against corruption, including the protection of informers is welcomed”, the resolution says.
However, there is a growing concern that corruption continues to be a serious problem that mines people’s trust on public institutions.
“There’s a growing concern that key institutions which lead the fight against corruption, continue to be subjected to political interventions and have limited administrative capacities”, the amendment says.
The tenth amendment of the compromise calls on more measures to be taken “in order to uproot the cultivation of narcotics and production and trafficking in Albania and dismantle the networks which are connected to organized crime as well as to strengthen regional and international cooperation”.
The amendment says that “police and prosecution are not able to identify criminal networks after the cultivation of drugs”.
Another amendment calls for more efforts to be made in order to restrain the uncontrolled spreading and unlawful traffic of weapons. It also demands the destruction of the remaining part of small and light weapons.
According to the resolution, one serious concern about Albania is the fact that “it has a high number of murders by fire arms”.
A growing concern relates to the increase of asylum seekers in Europe. The 17th amendment of compromise “points out that the number of unfounded asylum demands for Albanians in EU member countries has seen a fresh increase”. Therefore, “the government is required to take prompt action to address this phenomenon and grow awareness, offer economic and social support and prevent all efforts made in this aspect and address all factors that encourage structural unemployment and problems in social protection policies, education and healthcare”.
Media, limited progress
MEPs say that the media made limited progress in 2016.”We express our regret for the restricted progress in the domain of the freedom of media last year. We stress the critical importance of the independence and professionalism of public and private media. We’re concerned about the political impact on the media and self-censorship spread among journalists”, the resolution underlines.