From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Rama Misses the Point of German Conditions on Starting EU Accession Talks

On Tuesday, the German CDU/CSU party published a draft resolution that approves Albania’s opening of EU accession talks but conditions the actual start of negotiations on a number of specific criteria to be met by Albania.  

Notably these include functioning of the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court with vetted judges and prosecutors, electoral reform inline with the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations, legal action against judges who fail the vetting, the creation of a specialist structure to fight corruption and organised crime, particularly involving politicians and government officials, administrative reform, and a final decision on the legitimacy of the 30 June vote.

“Significant additional efforts” need to be made in areas including the rule of law, the vetting process, the independence of institutions, confiscating funds related to corruption, and fighting organised crime.

The resolution also implied that Albania is lacking areas including freedom of the press and media, rights of the most vulnerable and minorities, and functioning democratic institutions.

But most interestingly of all, the German party insisted that before actual negotiations can start, criminal proceedings must be started “immediately” against all of those suspected of involvement in vote-buying and election rigging. The draft adds that such investigations must be concluded quickly, noting that no arrests warrants have been issued, despite the fact the prosecution has been sitting on the wiretaps for almost as long as 3 years.

Edi Rama responded to the news by tweeting a statement in which he claims;

“Thank you to all the CDU/CSU MPs who finally VOTED FOR THE OPENING OF NEGOTIATIONS. As for those who voted AGAINST, we will convince them WITH FACTS in every step that ALBANIA DESERVES the opening of negotiations. THANK YOU ANGELA [Merkel] for the unsparing support for ALBANIA”

Whilst the CDU/CSU does support the opening of accession talks, the number of conditions they have placed on starting the actual negotiations are vast and broad-reaching. What makes Rama’s tweet so strange is the fact that the draft resolution is categorically calling for the arrest, investigation and prosecution of all of those involved in vote-buying and election rigging.

This would potentially include Rama himself, a number of officials, government employees, Socialist Party ministers, and even MP Damian Gjiknuri- someone implicated in vote-buying in the 2016 elections yet sits on a committee that is supposed to work on electoral reform. 

British journalist for Euronews, Jack Parrock also noted his tweet, noting how he is “spinning it as German willingness to open EU accession talks”.