A public preliminary balance sheet of the eleventh meeting of the Stabilization and Association Council (SA Council) between Albania and the European Union which took place in Brussels on Monday shows that Albania has carried out all its home tasks.
So the SA Council meeting chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, Josep Borrell and attended by Albanian delegation led by the Prime Minister Edi Rama expressed its expectation for the holding of the first Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) as soon as possible after the adoption of the Negotiating Framework, and in accordance with the conditions for its holding, as set out in the Council Conclusions of 25 March 2020.
The Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Olivér Várhelyi was also present representing the European Commission in the meeting, while Albania was represented only by majority’s dignitaries.
The SA Council recognized the extraordinary challenges that Albania had to face due to the devastating earthquake of 2019, amplified by the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this context, the SA Council recalled the unprecedented support that the EU has provided to Albania and the region with 1.15 billion euros mobilized to recover from the earthquake and mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
The latter includes health and economic support of € 3.3 billion in total for the region, including € 4 million for emergency medical equipment for Albania, over € 46 million for socio-economic support and a € 180 million loan for macro-financial assistance.
In addition, the Economic and Investment Plan for the region contains a substantial investment package of up to € 9 billion and guarantees aimed at mobilizing up to € 20 billion to support economic recovery.
The SA Council reviewed and noted progress in areas of reform including the rule of law and the judiciary, respect for fundamental rights, public administration, economic policy, education and employment, liaison, and the green agenda. The SA Council praised Albania’s determination to implement reforms related to the European integration process.
Special emphasis was placed on the process of re-evaluation of judges and prosecutors (vetting process) as well as on the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, which have already resumed their work. The SA Council positively assessed that Albania’s new specialized bodies to fight anti-corruption and organized crime have begun to operate.
No mention was made that the President, the United Opposition and many groups of civil society oppose the legal violation of the Constitution and legal procedures in the fight against corruption in Albania.
Lauding majority the SA Council noted the progress made in practical preparations for the forthcoming elections to be held on April 25 this year. In this regard, the SA Council agreed on the need for further follow-up of all aspects included in the OSCE / ODIHR recommendations, as well as the recommendations of the Venice Commission regarding the forthcoming elections.
Constructive and comprehensive dialogue between political parties and cooperation in the Albanian Parliament will be essential for the further progress of reforms and for the overall sustainability of the engagement in the EU integration process.
The SA Council noted that the transitional period of the Stabilization and Association Agreement ended on 31 March 2019 and that from 1 April 2019 Albania is fully associated with the EU.
The SA Council also underlined Albania’s continued 100% alignment with the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy, assessing that this conveys a strong signal of Albania’s strategic orientation and commitment to its goal of EU membership. and serves as a positive example for the whole region.
Given what has been made available for the public opinion and media it seems that SA Council and Albanian government are in full harmony on the situation in Albania which leaves room for hinting that opposition has wronged in its stances and all its fight is futile. On top of all it seems opposition is going to the April poll as SA Council sees only progress made in practical preparations for the forthcoming elections. /argumentum.al