Reforms should pass from paper to practice before accession talks can begin, Frei says

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 23, 2018 15:34

Reforms should pass from paper to practice before accession talks can begin, Frei says

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  • Germany will support and assist all necessary reforms for Albania only after the country’s government and society implement all reforms agreed on with the opposition and mediated by international partners in practice, and not just in paper.

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TIRANA, Aug. 23 – In an interview for Panorama, reporter for the German parliamentary group CDU/CSU Thorsten Frei said there is “clearly” no automatic way for accession negotiations for Albania to begin  next summer.

According to Frei, there are two big deficits that postponed the decision.

First, completion of the voting for the 57 supreme judges and prosecutors and so a independent functioning of the highest courts. Second: completion of the electoral reform and local elections, which are held under the regime of a new electoral law. Only if these have been eliminated, I am sure that the Bundestag and especially the CDU/CSU parliamentary group will recommend the Federal Government to approve the opening of accession negotiations at the relevant European Council,” Frei said, asked about the Bundestag stand on Albania’s EU journey.

Germany will support and assist all necessary reforms for Albania only after the country’s government and society implement all reforms agreed on with the opposition and mediated by international partners in practice, and not just in paper.

Asked about his previously outspoken view that current Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj, who was accused of changing the Constitution to keep his brother from serving a sentence in Italy, is being protected politically, Frei said his views probably reflect the overall Bundestag stand.

Yes. By German standards, he would probably not keep in office. The decisive factor is always the pressure of our very strong civil society,” Frei told Panorama.

Frei also said he has traced the new National Theatre bill debate, which has been ongoing since February.

“It raises many questions with regard to EU law and the Albanian Constitution. That is why, from my point of view, President Meta rightly referred the law back to Parliament. And clearly it is difficult to clarify the case in the rule of law without functioning court. The case of the National Theater will also show how serious Edi Rama is with EU membership,” Frei said.

The most recent in a series of Albanian parliamentary crises, the new NT building project in the capital’s center, had the government pushing the bill through a special law, the opposition objecting and calling it a corrupt affair, civil society and a part of actors protesting against it since February, the President vetoing it and sending it back to the parliament and the European Commission checking whether it breaches the Stabilization and Association Agreement.

Lastly, Frei commented on the blocked Magistrate School as one of the few areas still under the partial control of the opposition that will show on what level are political forces willing to cooperate, as the law requires a qualified majority to be approved.

“The law provides one of the few levers that the opposition has. Therefore, it is understandable that the Democratic Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration own claims with their consent. In the end, it is up to and responsibility of PM Rama and his government to find a compromise, push necessary reforms and reach tangible progress on the way to Europe,” Frei concluded.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times August 23, 2018 15:34