- 1. The independent management of funds and the involvement of civil societyAt the beginning of the month, Mrs.Klajda Gjosha, Minister of Integration, in the quality of the National Coordinator of IPA funds (NIPAC) held a meeting with representatives of the beneficiary of decentralized projects under IPA 2013, which states that funds will be managed independently by each Ministry, to measure the administrative and institutional capacity of our country and the ability to manage such funds. They continue to mention 7 particular projects, which will be managed by the respective authorities and therefore, the latter will have a greater responsibility from what they’ve had, up until now. We continue to not understand, as citizens, how can it be possible to assess the performance of an “investment” or that of projects thrown back and forth in speeches for the matter, when no information is made public in relation to them or to make transparent how it is suppose to function the fund management scheme, instead of using general remarks as the “respective funding”, ” relevant structures and authorities”, “respective processes” etc. Whatever type of monitoring scheme that the Ministry claims will use, they have to make it public because one of the unspoken criteria for accession into the EU is increasing the accountability towards citizens, which begins by applying transparent policies.As a consequence, we ask if initiatives such as the drafting of the Government’s Roadmap for Civil Society, presented by Mrs. Gjosha on February 6, have any value. Among other things in this presentation the Minister said: “We believe that a strong and active civil society can always contribute to the welfare of the citizens, which remains our major mission and in the fulfillment of this mission it has been of great value the continuous encouragement and support that the international institutions and the donor community has provided to our Government and our society “. In an overview of the Roadmap, we observe that it is formulated in extremely superficial and amateur way, without setting tangible goals, but relying on common formulas like “Ensuring x”, “Guaranteeing transparency and inclusion”, “Undergoing evaluation ” etc. Granted we are not speaking about a strategy yet, but is a plan of action, which by default means submitting a general plan of action, a way with which it will be “guaranteed”, “ensued”, “evaluated”, which latter will be broken down in detail in the Strategy that is to come.
- The initiation of the negotiations for accession, still distant.
During February there have been some very significant indicators on the progress that our country is making in its attempted for EU membership. Given that the next step in the process has to do with the start of negotiations, our country is trying to lobby strongly for the opening of the latter, but diplomatic answer is same as 8 months ago when we received the candidate status: “Are you in on the right track.” In the EU diplomatic vocabulary that means that during this period no tangible changes have been seen, which would force the European Commission to consider the opening of negotiations, especially since various formulas are being considered and reconsidered for the extension of the process due to internal problems (So, here we are, same old, same old!)
The interview that Mr. Fleckenstein gave to Top Channel TV further illustrates the question raised above, during which the latter said that the beginning of negotiations is not a decision of the European Commission, but the Albanian government and it depends by the reforms implemented. In the very same spirit can be interpreted the visit in Brussels by the Albanian delegation, headed by the Prime minister Mr. Rama and the Minister of Integration Ms. Gjosha, where aside from the media attention the latter generated by taking her newborn son at the meeting in an attempt to imitate the Italian Euro Deputy Ronzulli, nothing else was recorded. None of the officials with whom meetings were held issued a statement about our country position at the moment and for the success of the meetings we have to take for granted what our Prime Minister wrote to Twitter after meeting with Mr. Juncker, President of the European Commission, considering it “encouraging”. Given that repetition of statements and self encouragement are indicator of the lack of progress, together with the chosen approach towards the implementation of reforms, we can say that the opening of negotiations not only does not have a date, but there isn’t yet a remote date for their start.
Given that, basically negotiations have to do with the tentative to enter into dialogue with member countries trying to gain their “sympathy”, hoping of attracting not only support, expertise, but also direct investment, this month has been important and successful as the Minister of Integration has held several meetings with EU officials/ member countries, to be mentioned are: the reception with the Swedish delegation, where Mrs. Gjosha chose to emphasize the importance of the opposition in the implementation of two important reforms like administrative and judicial one, as a way of dissipating the responsibility why the first its crippled and the second hasn’t started yet. The fact that the EU has set a primary importance to the reformation of Justice system was once again mentioned in the meeting with representatives of the German Bundestag, who stated what every citizen of this country knows, that this particular reform needs to be done in order to restore faith in justice and it is the key to the eventual success of all other reforms. This attitude is also shared by the Belgian Deputy Prime own visit, which stated that:
“A genuine reform of Justice is necessary in Albania and the Kingdom of Belgium is ready to assist in this process through its expertise or training required”.
- About the work of the European Integration Committee
Given that one of the most important criteria all integration process, not to say the most important, has to do with the Acquis Communitaire or the approximation of the laws of our country with the EU and in this regard, the main role it is played by the of European Integration, where the Ministry of Integration is a key player, not only for monitoring the process, but also with various proposals for the quality of the laws.
During the month of February three meetings of this committee were held on February 9, having as object possible changes to the law “On establishing the rules and procedures for international trade of endangered species of fauna and flora of the wild”, the one held February 16 reviewing the draft law “On the accession of the Republic of Albania in the multilateral agreement among the countries of Eastern Europe for the implementation of the Convention” environmental impact assessment in transboundary context ” and the last one reviewing the draft law ” Amendments and Supplements on the Law no. 9723, dated 03.05.2007 “On National Registration Centre”, as amended.
What should be noted, at least by consulting the relevant records, is that although the Commissions should meet to examine, debate, listen rapporteurs of certain ministries, take note of possible proposals, none of the above happens. All focus on a bureaucratic procedure that lasts 30 minutes and during which everything is approved, reviewed or challenged, the Ministry of Integration doesn’t propose anything, not even in a case of bad translation of a law and not even an expert in legal matters can guess why is it that the law in question is being amended:
It doesn’t meet the standards of the acquis, is there any reservation in respect of certain provisions or articles or where is the famous “Civil Society” (not on commission Ministry of Integration!), to which they refer to the point of exploitation, as a way to legitimize government decisions.
A step forward seems to be be the decision to create the National Integration Council, which will be chaired by the opposition and aims at strengthening the role of Parliament on the process or in as Ms. Bregu, who chairs the above commission ” In fact, the National Integration Council it is not related to the international arena, is the mechanism that should consult government decision making as the main body responsible on the integration reforms in the Parliament. Fortunately there are not two divided positions in Albania in regard to the integration process, thankfully nobody has slipped. However this does not avoid our responsibility to tell the truth about the non-implementation of the obligations and the failure of those links that are part of the five priorities that really bring us closer to the EU. Since the creation of this body aims to increase the control over integration process by Parliament, as the senior representative body, I consider it a positive step because at least in theoretical terms this should increase the level of democracy in the process and its quality, with increasing of decision-making actors.
- Achievements in the eyes of the Ministry of Integration
How the Ministry of Integration sees the reforms launched so far by the government, but also the meaning of integration itself, as one one main agents monitoring the implementation of predefined priorities, we could deduce from the speech that the head of the Ministry, Ms. Gjosha gave during her visit in Kosovo on February 15, according to which , after receiving the candidate status the image of Albania has changed, gaining a very large credibility in the world (huh?) and soon we will have an increase in investments as a result. I would like to point out that the image of our country, with the increase of “economic” asylum seekers as they are self-proclaimed, with increased immigration, the growth of organized crime to international scales and the unchanged levels of corruption, we can easily conclude that the opinion of EU member states has not changed. In terms of investment, considering the tendency of every government to exaggerate the smallest successes, if these investments, even modest ones, would have occurred, we believe we would have already heard by now.
The above criticisms is not made for the sake of inertia, but to ascertain once again that the Ministry of Integration should change the strategy and not cling desperately to the formation of an image, because the foreign investors that our economy needs will want to see results, such as that very controversial Administrative Court that shouldn’t be just another link we added to the existing number of courts, where an issue can be examined after an eternity and then extended for one another eternity. We are not going to examine the idea of Ms. Gjosha that migration from Kosovo to the EU countries comes, not only because of unemployment, but rather because of frustration which comes from the lack of the visa liberalization. I am not sure if the Minister is trying to say that Kosovar citizens immigrate to pressure the EU to liberalize visa or that there is a correlation (which we can’t seem to notice) between migration and lack of liberalization, given that the first is done for economic reasons and liberalization, not allowing movement for employment reasons, does not solve the problem.
- Achievements in the eyes of the Enlargement Department on European Commission
A meeting was held in early February between representatives of the Ministry of Integration, that of other ministries and the Enlargement Department of the European Commission’s and European Union Delegation, as part of the second meeting of the joint working groups. Practically such a meeting aimed reporting the achievements made in meeting the five priorities that condition the opening of negotiations with the EU. According to the Minister, Mrs. Gjosha the Ministry has managed to establish a monitoring system for the work being done by the relevant ministries, is at the moment preparing the reform in the justice system, they have opened the anti-corruption campaign, which I guess meant the inauguration of the online portal and there has been an improvement in respecting human rights. According to the delegation’s observations, they highlighted the impact that the working groups should have in the monitoring process, which means that the said monitoring strategy it hasn’t been that much successful and the implementation of the required reforms continues to have the same declarative character.
In conclusion, the experience of the neighboring country, Croatia, which since receiving the candidate status in 2004 till it voted to join EU in 2014 had to wait 10 years, it gives an idea of the distant prospect of integration of our country , although Albanian governments, one after the other, have painted a picture that suggests that after 5 years from the status our country will become part of the European Union. Unfortunately, the citizens need to be aware that the process itself has nothing to do with making simple template reforms, benefiting from expertise since it is free, copying laws, but primarily it has to do with an internalization of those same democratic principles that guide member countries.
Establishing this principles, among others, would prohibit a public official to use for its own purpose the institution or to even suggest that this institution equals the official itself. The above mentioned comment it is based in a post to the social network Facebook, posted on Fbruary 2 on the dedicated website of Ministry of Integration, probably written by its Administrator: “Hello friends! This is the page of the Minister Gjosha, which will communicate with you, not only as Minister of European Integration, but above all, as Klajda. ”
The administration of social networking sites of each of the ministries should be among the voices on the budget regarding the costs of informing the citizens, for what reason Ms. Gjosha assumes that this is her personal site?
One such approach, except not very professional, continues to equalize the whole institution with a single person and as a citizen and as citizens, we wish this tendency to end, in favor of strengthening the authority and credibility of the institutions themselves.