European Parliament president calls for judicial reform, stronger rule of law

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 17, 2015 01:00

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  • Martin Schulz has urged Albania to implement reforms to speed up its EU membership bid, but added opening of negotiations likely won't happen this year.

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European Parliament President Martin Schulz spoke to the Albanian parliament. (Photo: Kuvendi i Shqipërisë)

European Parliament President Martin Schulz spoke to the Albanian parliament. (Photo: Kuvendi i Shqipërisë)

TIRANA, July 15 – Albania must commit to reforms that assure an independent, accountable and efficient judicial system and build up an efficient system of public administration, European Parliament President Martin Schulz has said in a speech to the Albanian parliament.

A strong justice system is very important in increasing of foreign investments and in offering further steps toward launching full membership negotiations with the European Union, he added in a press conference.

Schulz made the comments during a two-day visit to Tirana, where he met with all top officials, urging them to go ahead with the judicial reform and implement stronger rule of law in the country.

Schulz said that it is important that the reforms are effective and successful, but he declined to answer whether the launch of the full membership negotiations will be possible this year as Tirana hopes will be the case.

“The second half of 2015 is too soon. You have the full support of European Parliament, but as you know, it’s not the only institution that decides on issuing a positive response for the start of talks with Albania,” Schulz said. “However, during the second half of this year, we will promote positive debate in order to have a positive response, while for the moment, I cannot give you a positive response.”

Schultz expressed concern about the confrontational political climate in Albania.

“The persistent tensions were damaging your country and constituted a risk to the whole reform process. I share [this] concern. I call on you, therefore, to act in accordance with the 13 conclusions of the dialogue, particularly as regards reforms of the justice system, strengthening an independent, accountable and efficient judicial system and building up an efficient system of public administration,” he said. “Independent institutions are the key to a fair and prosperous future. And initial successes in efforts to combat corruption should encourage the government to pursue them further in an energetic manner.”

In a portion of the parliament speech that got a lot of attention in Albanian media, Schultz said Europe would not forget Albania’s suffering and virtues shown in the past, referring to a particularly brutal episode in WWII.

“The massacre by the German Army in Borova, 72 years ago, on 6 July 1943, in which German soldiers barbarically took reprisals for attacks by partisans and cruelly murdered women and children, will for ever fill us with shame. We shall not forget it,” said Schultz, a native of Germany. “Just as we shall never forget the courage and humanity of those Albanians who saved their Jewish neighbours from deportation. Thousands of Jewish refugees also found shelter and protection in your country.”

This was the first visit to Albania by Schulz as the president of the European Parliament, but the German Social Democrat has visited Albania several times. After Tirana, Schulz visited to Serbia and then Bosnia Herzegovina.

 

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times July 17, 2015 01:00