MEPs Support Albanian EU Accession Following Visit Amidst Mass Protests

Following a visit to Albania, the Foreign Affairs Committee of MEPs led by Tunne Kelam have stated that Albania has delivered substantial reforms under the circumstances and that considering this record of accomplishment, EU accession negotiations should be opened this year.

Whilst noting that the lack of “national unity” and internal political squabbling threatened to derail the process, Kelam noted that the MEPs “look forward to a unanimous decision by EU Member states in the Council”.

The MEP delegation visited Albania between 27th February and 1st March and were present in Tirana during an Opposition protest that saw police firing tear gas directly into the crowd, with a number of police, journalists, and protestors requiring medical treatment.

The comments of the delegation came as a something of a surprise as it seems strange to praise a country on its progress and reforms when the Opposition has resigned from parliament, there have been countless protests against the government, and the ruling party is implicated in vote rigging allegations that are yet to be investigated.

MEPs called on the country to keep their focus on the ongoing judicial, economic, rule of law, and public administration reforms whilst adhering to a “democratic political process”. These statements were made whilst thousands lined the streets to demonstrate against the judicial, economic, legal, public administration, and democratic situation in the country.

Yesterday for the fourth time in just over two weeks, supporters of the opposition parties protested in Tirana. Whilst the police had refused to grant permission for yesterdays’s protest citing fears over violence and public disorder, the protestors assembled anyway.

The Parliament building and an extended area around it in central Tirana was surrounded by hundreds of police while access to streets leading to the Parliament was closed to prevent people from approaching the area. New security cameras had been installed in the vicinity, yet yesterday’s rally concluded without incident.

The Opposition has also said they intend to hold another protest on Monday.