Tirana, Albania (Tirana Echo) – Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama has said that EU membership talks mean a new phase of making corrupt politicians, judges and prosecutors pay for what they have done in the past, has started for his country.
“The recommendation for membership talks means the escalation of our war on organized crime and corruption. Judges and prosecutors who cannot pass the Vetting process or politicians and malicious organized crime lords who have escaped justice for years must pay, the same way those guilty pay in every country of the European Union,” said Edi Rama during a press conference today in Tirana.
The statement from the clearly emotional Albanian prime minister comes minutes after the European Commission recommended the opening of membership talks for Albania and Macedonia.
The Commission has said in its report that Albania’s judicial system has some level of preparation and that the implementation of the comprehensive and thorough justice reform has continued, resulting in good progress overall.
“The re‑evaluation of all judges and prosecutors (vetting process) has started and is delivering first tangible results. This process has cross-party support, is carried out by an independent authority, is subject to international monitoring and its compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights has been confirmed by the Venice Commission. Under the aegis of the European Commission, an International Monitoring Operation has been deployed to oversee the process throughout its implementation.” – reads the Enlargement package made public today.
The findings were echoed today by the Foreign policy Chief of the European union Federica Mogherini who said that “the decision we took today to recommend the Council to open negotiations with both Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are based on firm, strict assessments of progress made on recommendations that were previously done – because we have seen recommendations we put forward before, in particular in 2016, measures taken in different capitals, in this case in Tirana but also in Skopje, results starting to come.”
Rama’s statement and Mogherini’s encouraging recommendation come hours after the President of France Emmanuel Macron ruled out any further enlargement of the EU until the Union is reformed.
“I don’t want a Balkans that turns toward Turkey or Russia, but I don’t want a Europe that, functioning with difficulty at 28 and tomorrow as 27, would decide that we can continue to gallop off, to be tomorrow 30 or 32, with the same rules,” Macron said today during a speech to the European Parliament.
Macron’s statement signals a tough stand-off between the Commission and Member States during the upcoming European Council meeting in June, where the enlargement package will be discussed.
During a 2016 interview for German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Albania’s PM warned the EU that if they leave the Balkans out, other players such as Russia and Islam could take over.
“If we want a secure and stable Europe, it would be good for the EU not to leave any empty spaces. We should not forget that there are secondary and third players who would profit from a vacuum left by the EU. I am not only referring to Russia, but also to radical Islam,” said Edi Rama in 2016.
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