As part of Europe Week, EU Head of Delegation Luigi Soreca has found his own niche to depoliticize the issue of EU accession and defuse even the most thorny political issues into a bland eurocratic discourse, decorated with custom-made statistics.
In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Soreca addressed numerous issues, including the massive immigration of young people from Albania. Mere months after the largest student protests in Albania since 1991, and while the government actively tries to put the university system under its strict control, Soreca was able to formulate the following platitude:
For some reason there is no space for dialogue between [the youth] and the Albanian system and the Europe Week has the aim of creating this dialogue.
Soreca also provided several “new” poll numbers, most likely gathered in order to buttress belief in EU accession and the justice reform. First he presented the magic number 93% support for the EU, which, as I explained before, is slightly more complex than just that. He then produced two further numbers, namely that 79% of those surveyed believe that the justice reform is the right thing to do, while only 13% believes it is not going in the right direction.
Remarkably, these numbers are in direct contradiction with a poll recently conducted by the impartial Albanian Helsinki Committee (KShH), which showed that 63% of those surveyed didn’t believe the justice reform was just, and also 63% found that it wouldn’t make the justice system more credible. So whom do we trust? An independent NGO or an EU Delegation eager to prop up the Albanian government? The KShH provided a full report on how it arrived at its numbers, something the EU has failed to provide.
Soreca had a few other justice reform gems to share. For example, when faced with the fact that Albania has been a de facto lawless country, and, as Jonida Gashi has argued elsewhere, in a permanent state of exception, Soreca again defends himself with these meaningless numbers:
I am completely aware of the influence this period [without Constitutional Court] has had on the daily life of the Albanian citizens and they are right, but in fact 79% of them still support the justice reform and show us how important it is for Albanian citizens.
By simply referring to the entire collapse of the legal system as an inconvenient “influence” on “daily life” is to severely underplay the problem. More than a single questionable law has passed Parliament without a Constitutional Court to provide a final check, and the immense backlogs created now that courts and prosecution offices are hemorrhaging staff will not be cleaned up anytime soon – with massive repercussions on the fundamental rights to a speedy trial and access to justice. But again, this mysterious “79%” makes everything right.
At the end of the interview, Soreca once again returns to the 93%, calling it even a “mandate” he received:
As I have said before, we have a strong mandate from the Albanian citizens, 93% of whom want to enter the European Union.
The delusional nature of this statement should be obvious to anyone. Albanian citizens do not elect the European Delegation in Tirana, nor do they participate in the European Parliament elections. Soreca does not have any mandate from the Albanian people; he has a mandate from the European Commission to represent its goals and policies in Albania.
The fact that Albanians want to enter the EU has nothing to do with any of the policies Soreca is advocating – but everything with the possibility it engenders: to leave the rotten Albanian political system behind.