In an interview with Top Channel yesterday, EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca gave the starting shot for what no doubt will be yet another attempt by the international diplomatic corps to pressure the opposition into returning to Parliament.
However, the rhetoric that Soreca has mobilized to do so confirms my worst fears about the delusion that has gripped the European Commission and EU Delegation in Tirana:
“First of all, the Judiciary Reform, which is the core of the entire revival of the Albanian society. This is what the opposition’s and majority’s efforts should be focused on: establishing all of the Judiciary Reform institutions, especially the Special Prosecution Against Corruption and the National Bureau of Investigation. This important objective must be leading the minds of all political parties. Boycotting the Parliament doesn’t take you towards this direction.”
Whereas I would be the last one to deny the importance of a justice reform implemented according to its original spirit and intent, namely to establish a non-corrupt judiciary as independent as possible from political influence, Soreca’s exaggerated claim that it is “the core of the entire revival of the Albanian society” suggest that its failure would completely doom the country. It is the “core,” the center piece not only of revival, but “the entire revival” of the entirety of the Albanian society, not even just the state!
This is clearly the most eloquent articulation of the self-importance and arrogance of the European Commission and its representatives, to think that a bureaucratic solution supported with an unmarked bags of cash would precipitate “the entire revival of the Albanian society.”
The justice reform is only a small piece in a much larger puzzle of establishing the rule of law. This puzzle is political, not bureaucratic in nature, and can only be solved by the collective will of the political class and the people it claims to represent. It is unsustainable in the long term if purely built on outside pressure, as is clear from the cases of Poland, Hungary, and Romania, for example.
Apart from the question whether the justice reform in its current form has any chance of being successful, independent of the actions of the opposition, Soreca tragically fails to realize that a functioning national judiciary apparatus means nothing when most natural resources of the country have been given away in concessions that last decades and fall under international arbitration laws. It means nothing to the enormous damage done to the Albanian economy through its dependence on drug trafficking and money-laundering construction projects. It means nothing at the moment the entire state apparatus has been centralized in the hands of a single group of politicians/oligarchs/mafia bosses.
Because, at the end, like everything, the judiciary is run by humans who are to a large extent the product of their environment. Maybe in legalistic terms the judiciary may turn out to be completely independent, but that says nothing about those who work for them. Only an engrained tradition of respect for the rule of law and separation of powers can make a judiciary that is independent on paper also independent in reality.
To hear that a no doubt well-educated man like Ambassador Soreca thinks that reviving a society can magically be accomplished by a top-down process that wears a tie and suit is more than infuriating – it gives one the feeling that the EU, an institution the spirit of which I hold dear, is truly doomed.