Bundestag approves, solution of political crisis key to opening accession negotiations

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 27, 2019 13:46

Bundestag approves, solution of political crisis key to opening accession negotiations

Story Highlights

  • Among the conditions placed for Abania, some include long-standing ones like the functionality of the Constitutional and High Courts and the drafting of an electoral reform, while two are completely new - the punishment of anyone who has participated in vote-rigging and a final decision on the legality of the June 30 local elections once the Constitutional Court starts working again.

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TIRANA, Sept. 25 – The German Bundestag approved on Thursday night the conditions placed by the centre-right Christian Democratic CDU/CSU, which agreed on Tuesday to vote in favor of a conditional opening of accession talks with Albania. 

Among the conditions placed for Abania, some include long-standing ones like the functionality of the Constitutional and High Courts and the drafting of an electoral reform, while two are completely new – the punishment of anyone who has participated in vote-rigging and a final decision on the legality of the June 30 local elections once the Constitutional Court starts working again. 

The parliament’s final decision on Germany’s definite position in the European Council is expected to be adopted without any big changes, within two days. 

 

Justice and electoral reform, at the heart of change

 

The conditions for Albania have been categorized in two groups, those that need to be met before the Intergovernmental Conference, which formally marks the opening of the process for states, and other conditions that must be met before concrete chapters can be opened. 

In Albania’s case, these chapters are expected to be Chapters 23 and 24, related to the Rule of Law (the justice reform and fundamental rights), and basic rights and freedoms, such as security and justice.

Under the terms of the CDU / CSU, the first accession conference should take place only after the Federal Government agrees that Albania fulfilled both of these conditions: “ensuring the Constitutional and High Courts work and function by employing a reasonable number of verified judges and prosecutors and deciding on the electoral reform.” 

Concerning this reform, German MPs specified that it should be “fully in line with the OSCE / ODIHR recommendations and ensure transparent funding of parties and election campaigns and be based on the results of the ad hoc Electoral Reform Commission. The revision of the draft prepared there should be in an open and inclusive dialogue among all political forces, as recommended in the ODIHR report of September 5, 2019.”

 

Seven conditions to open separate accession chapters 

 

The launch of talks on concrete chapters is conditioned by a greater number of issues.

First is the implementation of the law on the initiated electoral reform, then comes the initiation of criminal proceedings against judges and prosecutors who did not qualify in the vetting process due to the punishable conduct and the initiation of criminal prosecution and eventually of lawsuits against those involved in vote-rigging during elections, and serious and speedy prosecution of proceedings.

Fourth comes the commitment of the special structure to fight corruption and organized crime (SPAK) and its ability to work and the solid progress in creating a steady success in the fight against corruption and organized crime at all levels, including initiating and completing proceedings against civil servants and high-level politicians. These include proactive investigations, eventually prosecutions and convictions related to corruption and organized crime.

Sixth comes a tangible progress in administrative reform, including the review of the positions of senior officials and directors, also in the light of constant irregularities and a final ruling on the legality of the June 30, 2019 local elections by the Constitutional Court, once it becomes functional again. 

“If a repetition of the process is decided, it must be conducted in accordance with the new electoral law,” the document approved by the CDU/CSU group states.

If the German Bundestag approves said document without major changes, as predicted so far, then this will represent the German government’s platform in the upcoming European Council meeting in mid-October. 

 

Reactions at home 

 

Following the publication of this decision, Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama thanked in a Twitter post “all the CDU/CSU deputies who finally voted in favor of opening the talks. Those who voted against it will be convinced at every step by the fact that Albania deserves the opening of talks. Thank you Angela for the unwavering support for Albania.”

Head of the resigned opposition Lulzim Basha also acknowledged that “increased conditions and demand for resolving the political crisis express sincere concern about the steps Albania has taken since June 2018. These conditions and demands reflect the failures of the Albanian government, not the people. In particular, the new requirements for the arrest and criminal prosecution of persons involved in vote rigging and the requirement to rule on the legitimacy of the June 30 farce process clearly reflect that Edi Rama’s failure and responsibility to open the negotiations lies with nobody else.” 

He added that “the CDU/CSU and SPD’s decision to open negotiating terms helps Albania overcome the severe political crisis, conduct free and fair elections and establish an independent justice system that punishes corrupt and criminal politicians.” 

He finally underlined and guaranteed to all Albanians and partners that we will do everything for our country to open negotiations as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, despite the government’s interpretations, political experts have said that for the first time, the German parliament recognized through the most important document that it has produced for Albania that there is a serious political crisis in our country and that it must be resolved immediately so as not to damage the negotiations.

 

Albania and N. Macedonia, separated in their road to the EU

 

Meanwhile, when it comes to North Macedonia, which has so far walked hand in hand with Albania in their road to the EU, will most likely receive an unconditional opening of accession negotiations.

Christian Democratic Union MP Gunther Krichbaum told Deutsche Welle that the efforts of Northern Macedonia are being viewed favorably by the Bundestag, which will formally decide whether or not to support the opening of negotiations with the country at the end of September.

“I am convinced, though I can only speak for the Bundestag, not for the parliaments of Europe, that there will be a positive solution for Northern Macedonia,” Krichbaum said.

“There is also the possibility that the process of opening the accession negotiations for Albania and Macedonia will be separate, rather than in a group. It is important to respect the EU principle that every country will be valued on the basis of merit,” he added.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times September 27, 2019 13:46