MEPs discussed Draft Resolution on Albania

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The European Parliament Foreign Committee discussed the amends proposed for the resolution of Albania. Despite the support for the candidate status if the country fulfils the conditions, the European MPs remain sceptic about the current progress.

Vassilis Margos, Head of the Unit for Albania at the European Commission: “We believe Albania has indeed made very good progress for this year, in particular in the context of the political agreement of last November, the implementation of which has been on track in the course of the year, and also in a number of other areas of reform, as we have set out in the progress report and in the strategy paper. In this respect I think that we need to give a strong signal to our Albanian friends, a signal of support, and also of encouragement for further reforms.

Eduard Kukan, Head of Delegation for Balkan at the EU: “It would be worth to discuss a little bit more what kind of progress exactly has been fairly and objectively achieved in Albania. And I’m not suggesting any final solution, because it’s “limited progress” or “progress”. Concerning the compromise amends, I agree with that, but I think that the completion is the key verb here, completion of the outstanding key report, and the adoption and implementation. That should be the language, the word that we should use in all paragraphs of this resolution. I agree with the amend about the cooperation between the government and the opposition to improve the political climate, but I want to share with you that myself I still need more hard proof that will help me overcome my scepticism that this is really the situation in Albania. Of course, it will be very important for Albania how it deals with the upcoming elections of next year, and how they will conduct and how will ballot count will proceed and what will be follow-up to these elections. Just two amendments of my own that I would like to keep there. First, this amendment 74 refers to the investigation of the January 21st events. I think that it is important for Albania and its citizens that these events are properly and independently investigated, and a credible judicial procedure is launched. Without doing it, I don’t think it would be good for the society of Albania. Second is the amendment 133, which I favoured following the very intense situation when former political prisoners were on strike and two of them set themselves on fire.”

Kristian Vigenin, Bulgarian EMP, S&D: "It wouldn’t be fully fair to blame the opposition for not willing to support these laws, because it is a matter also of the government and the majority to understand the importance of these laws and the steps that have to be taken, so that they can also make the necessary concessions. If those laws are not adopted, obviously the country cannot hope to achieve the candidate status now. It is possible that they will not achieve the status even if those laws are adopted, but at least there is a good chance. There are already countries that suggest that no move on the candidate status should be made before the elections of next year.”

Boris Zala, Slovakian EMP, S&D: "The report makes clear that the conduct of the upcoming Parliamentary elections will be critical to Albania’s EU integration process, and of course, an important test of Albania’s democratic maturity. Beyond that, Albania faces steep challenges in aligning with EU standards, especially in the rule of law, in the integrity of its judiciary, in the fight against corruption, in the quality of its public administration, in safeguarding human and social rights, or in protecting the environment. 
Nikolaos Chountis, rapporteur for Albania at the EU: "Let’s not think that the situation in Albania has been fully stabilized. Pressure and encouragement must be preserved in this direction. There are conditions that should be fulfilled and reforms that should be reached. All political parties in Albania should work for this purpose. The amendments of Mr. Kukan, which are not included in the compromises, have my entire support. As for amendment 74, I think that there should be an investigation of the January 21st events, as well as for the amend 133 for the former political prisoners. I agree that they should be included in the list, although it is not an amendment of compromise”.

The Green MPs raised the concern of waste import and management, especially for the toxic ones. The Dutch EMP Cornelisen considered futile the government supportive amendment of EMP Doris Pack, who wasn’t present in the debate.

Marije Cornelissen, the Green Party: “Just one question for the EPP. Mr.Kukan, on behalf of Mrs. Pack, said that you are willing to support the implementation of the national plan for the waste management, and I really cannot imagine why that could be, because it is a huge problem in Albania. There’s a lot of toxic waste being imported and it is an enormous environmental problem.

Vasilis Maragos: "I think that it is important to stress the need to address the issue not only in the context of import, which is only part of the problem, but also in view of ensuring proper implementation of waste management. This is something that we are addressing a lot in the context of our bilateral assistance program with Albania.”

The Foreign Committee foresees the voting of the amends on November 22nd, and the resolution for Albania will be voted in a plenary session in mid December.