1. Blame the opposition?
Meetings held in April between representatives of the Albanian Parliament and European Parliament, confirmed once more that Albania is not ready to open accession negotiations for EU membership. For reasons that vary from incomplete implementation of EU directives, lack of substantive efforts to implement important reforms to the lack of diplomatic ‘’skills’’ in our country, often manifested with the misunderstanding that the diplomatic process to enter the EU implies simply conducting meetings with European institutions. This concept, reflected last month, skips the act that the negotiating process should be conducted with EU institutions as much as with institutions inside the country. Implementing this approach of the diplomatic process of integration, would benefit both the government and opposition and as a result the whole country, moving forward in the integration path.
The relationship between the government and opposition, which under normal circumstances should be considered simply one of the institutional dynamics that determines EU integration, in our country becomes crucial. We are facing this fact not only because each government blames the previous one for each criticism received by the European Commission, but also because such an attitude enables our governments not to take responsibility for their unfulfilled obligations and lack of progress.
Is it fair to charge the opposition with the responsibility for the country’s stagnation in the integration process?! The answer in principle is no, even if we suppose we are dealing with a malevolent opposition, ready to sacrifice national interest for the political one. The government is trusted with the responsibility of decisionmaking and through negotiations between parties should lead to a common stance and our country should not be presented in front of the EU as a country divided from interests. This way, the responsibility should not be transferred to the opposition, but it is necessary to point out that the government holds the main responsibility and it should be held accountable not only in front of its citizens but the European Commission as well.
The arguments presented above are also reasons why the declarations of Minister Gjosha, during an interview with Shqiptarja newspaper (did not) give much hope that the approach of the government will change. Aside from confirming once again the role of the opposition in the dialogue with the EU, the fact that the opposition did not have replicas in one of the meetings held, without mentioning that in another meeting with European parliamentarians the opposition had plenty of reserves and replicas, she mentions the opposition was offered plenty of space to contribute. Lets hope this approach in September will not be translated into the usual justification that the opposition is blocking the process, hence the lack of fulfillment of 5 key priorities. For citizens, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is, as long as these are not repeated over and over again and in this regard it is the duty of the opposition to invest more every time the political process hits a deadlock.
Talking about 5 key priorities, which should be addressed by September, the Minister of Integration requires that Albania be evaluated according to merit and if it fulfills what has been required then accession negotiations could be recommended. It is doubtful whether Ms. Gjosha wants the Commission to evaluate our country for the implementation of the reform on paper, while it is imposible to achieve concrete results from the implementation until September, what the EU can really evaluate are concrete measures and the seriousness of their implementation. As Enlargement Commissioner Hahn declared[i]: “The EU is determined to support Albania, to move forward as soon as possible, however the issue is not speed, but quality’’.
- Good news
A good news for our country this month was the decision of the EU to grant Albania and Macedonia 12 million Euros[ii], in the framework of IPA II, to develop the cross border area between the two countries for investment in tourism, infrastructure, economic improvement, trade and investment. This initiative is a continuation of the one 2007-2013, and if we were to believe the speech of Mr. Shabani, Minister of Local Self-governance in Macedonia, it has been successful, although no one mentioned these successful projects or if there were any joint initiatives.
Although this fact might be true in the case of our neighboring country, supposing that Macedonia has used almost 80% of the funds during that period, it is not known what funds the Albanian side has used. It is important to emphasize that granting the funds is dependent upon the quality of projects proposed and we hope this time Albania will have the needed capacities to absorb the funds that should boost the development of this area.
We also hope the Ministry of Integration will offer interested parties the needed assistance and information in order to have a comprehensive participation, but also to ensure a transparent process.
Another good news is that the Parliamentary Commission of Integration discussed the draft law ‘’On the energy sector’’, which is supposed to ‘’create a legal framework in this sector, with the aim to create and have a competitive functioning of the energy market, which will enable a stable and certain supply with energy to clients, by taking into consideration the interests of the consumer, minimizing costs of energy supply service, its adaptability with the environment and interests of generators and new operators in the market’’ – according to Mr. Ilir Bejtja, Deputy Minister of Energy and Industry. Unfortunately, it is obvious that the draft law is not opened to public discussion, although it is one of the most important policies with a public interest. To the contrary, the law will pass in Parliament through a shortened procedure and in this case it would be in the interest of the public to familiarize with the reports which detail the debate on the law or to familiarize with the opinion of experts, otherwise it is not clear how this law can guarantee or protect consumers and what are the novelties in measuring energy and how the consumer will be affected.
From the report we create an idea on how much different directories within Ministries cooperate, as Deputy Minister of Integration, Ms. Erisa Xhixho can’t explain who the Ministry of Energy has not approximated several provisions, saying there was a lack of feedback from this Ministry, while it is contradicted by the specialist in the approximation unit at the Ministry of Energy, who declares the law is in line with EU legislation. This situation also explains the level of control the Ministry of Integration has in the approximation process of line Ministries.
- The Minister of Integration
Finally, Ms. Gjosha addressed this month the problem of exodus in Albania, people who seek asylum, emphasizing the damage it causes for the accession process. In this aspect we want to remind that differently from how Ms. Gjosha portrays the phenomenon, it is not limited to deceived individuals, but also people who, not seeing any opportunity in their country, are ready to try anything that gives them a glimmer of hope. Furthermore, our government has failed to address the problem, denying the massive exodus. It seems Ms. Gjosha does not want to accept how favorable this massive exodus is, as in theory at least the unemployment rate will decrease. The exodus was ignored as problematic in the following months, until the phenomenon became massive, because if our government accepts our citizens are fleeing the country, then it needs to accept that maybe it is not such a good government after all.