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The political crisis must be resolved in Albania, European
Commissioner Füle said
European Commissioner for Enlargement
and Neighbourhood Policy
on the situation in Albania
Plenary Session of the
Strasbourg, 15 February
President, Honourable Members. Thank you for inviting me to
speak on Albania this evening.
Although on the European mainland, Albania was isolated for
a large part of the 20th century. However, Albania is now open
and accessible. It has become a country with a European perspective.
Today, Albania is stuck in a political crisis.
The developments in Tirana on Friday 21 January 2011 were tragic.
The increasingly bitter, political stalemate has resulted in
four needless deaths.
The tone in Tirana needs to change. The dangerous downward spiral
The political crisis must be resolved. This is the shared responsibility
of the political leaders in Albania. That is what the citizens
of Albania expect. And they are right. Democratically elected
representatives must act as such: represent the people and find
Mr Chairman, if the solution to the crisis lies in domestic
hands, we as outsiders must do all we can to help facilitate
such a solution.
EEAS Managing Director Miroslav Lajcák visited Tirana
twice to meet the President, the Prime Minister and the leader
His messages, on behalf of HR/VP and myself, were clear:
First - Stop the violence, and investigate the events of 21
January correctly. These investigations should be conducted by
the judicial authorities, without political interference.
Second – Stop the verbal abuse and the implicit and explicit
undermining of State institutions.
Third – Get the political dialogue back on track. Acknowledge
that you have a shared responsibility to secure a more positive
future for Albania. In the near future, this means jointly ensuring
the conduct of free, fair and transparent local elections.
Fourth - Begin the important task of implementing the twelve
priorities outlined in the 2010 Commission Opinion. The government
and the opposition must do it together.
The reactions of the political leaders and the general public,
to Miroslav Lajcak's visits were encouraging and positive, respectively.
There is some momentum, which can and should be used to turn
the crisis into an opportunity.
The two Albanian leaders welcome the attention given to them,
but they are stuck in their own internal impasse. But EU goodwill
and assistance cannot replace dialogue between the leaders.
We can help to bridge the gap through our active engagement.
However, we cannot do so before both sides signal a genuine willingness
to put the European future of Albania above party politics and
There is no space for "cherry picking". Albania must
meet all of the Copenhagen criteria including interactive, political
dialogue and functioning Parliament or nothing.
The following is on the table for Albania:
- an EU perspective
in line with Council conclusions and based on the Copenhagen
- a clear identification in the 2010
Commission Opinion of the twelve priorities, whose effective
implementation would enable
Albania to begin accession negotiations with the European Union.
priorities include, among others, improving the functioning
of democratic institutions and the political dialogue,
the rule of law and reform of the judiciary, the fight against
organized crime, and the protection of human rights.
These twelve priorities and the Copenhagen criteria are not
just exercises for the politicians. Rather, they bring clear,
measurable benefits for citizens. Albania's politicians urgently
need to put the interests of Albania's citizens first.
Let us turn these priorities into a European framework to address
the current political challenges in Albania.
For this reason, I sent a letter to Prime Minister Berisha,
one week before the January demonstrations, where I set out a "road
map" – based on these twelve priorities - to help
Albania emerge from the current impasse. We all witnessed the
tragic events that ensued.
It is not too late. If we receive irreversible signals that
there is a mutual willingness to use this European framework
to gradually overcome the political stalemate and the recent
crisis, then we will respond positively.
The European Parliament also has a vital role to play. You as
politicians, you can send a clear message to politicians. A clear,
united message from this house, and the whole European Union,
with the readiness to engage, would cause all in Albania to reflect
upon the best course of action.
Let me use this opportunity Mr President, Honourable members
to call on the Prime Minister of Albania Mr. Berisha to create
a truly inclusive political environment in Albania. Other political
forces and civil society organizations would gain from the benefits
of European integration.
Let me also call on the Leader of the Socialist Party Mr. Rama
to ensure that his party is a truly constructive opposition.
One which enjoys the benefits, but also the responsibilities
of this inclusive political environment we wish to see in Albania.
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