Head of the Socialist Party Parliamentary Group, Taulant Balla has said there are no 15 conditions for Albania to sit at the table for first Albania- EU Intergovernmental Conference. He said that Albanians should be told the truth and not discourses detached from the context.
“Representatives of EU institutions assessing Albania’s performance made it clear that Albania has taken steps to implement a series of reforms or the so-called 15 conditions mentioned in the March 25, 2020, Council document. The Commission stressed that there are no 15 conditions for the opening of negotiations and to have the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference, but there are some conditions that must be met before the Conference and others that will be realized in the future.”
In fact, Director for Western Balkans Genoveva Ruiz Calavera said:
“All the aspects that have been identified in the March conclusions – they are fifteen in particular – are all very important for the progress of Albania towards the European Union. But I will say that we have to differentiate, there is a sequence… They are not 15 conditions to open, to have the first intergovernmental conference. They are conditions that will be necessary before the intergovernmental conference, and they are conditions that will be necessary for the future progress of Albania towards the European Union. All of them will be reflected in the framework of the negotiations and, of course, will have to be discussed by the EU member states in the Council,” Ruiz Calavera replied.
Her confusing response – “they are not 15 conditions to have the first intergovernmental conference” but “15 conditions that will be necessary before the intergovernmental conference” – does not answer the question whether Albania can sit in talks without meeting these conditions.
Prime Minister Edi Rama has previously denied the existence of 15 conditions on several occasions.
On 19 June, the European Parliament voted to include an amendment in the resolution on the opening of negotiations with Albania. It states:
“[The European Parliament] emphasizes the 15 conditions set by the Council of the European Union that Albania must have met before convening the first Intergovernmental Conference with the Member States.
The official decision from the Council of the European Union on the Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process, dated 25 March 2020, states:
“Prior to the first intergovernmental conference, Albania should adopt the electoral reform fully in accordance with OSCE/ODHIR recommendations, ensuring transparent financing of political parties and electoral campaigns, ensure the continued implementation of the judicial reform, including ensuring the functioning of the Constitutional Court and the High Court, taking into account relevant international expertise including applicable opinions of the Venice Commission, and finalise the establishment of the anti-corruption and organised crime specialised structures. Albania should also further strengthen the fight against corruption and organised crime, including through cooperation with EU Member States and through the action plan to address the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations. Tackling the phenomenon of unfounded asylum applications and ensuring repatriations and amending the media law in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission remain important priorities.
It also states that the negotiating framework must reflect that Albania has successfully addressed all five key priorities (which have further sub-priorities) which include the following:
“The initiation of criminal procedures against judges and prosecutors accused of criminal conduct during the vetting process, initiation of proceedings against those accused of vote-buying, a sound track record regarding the fight against corruption and organised crime at all levels, including initiation of proceedings and completion of first proceedings against high ranking public officials and politicians, tangible progress regarding reform of public administration, implementation of the reform of the electoral law as well as a final decision on the lawfulness of the local elections of 30 June 2019, as well as further progress in the adoption of the remaining implementing legislation related to the 2017 framework law on the protection of national minorities, the adoption of the law on the population census in accordance with the Council of Europe recommendations, and the advancement of the process of registration of properties.”
This is not the first time Balla has misinterpreted official communications. Just yesterday he stated that the Venice Commission supported the Albanian media law and only minor amendments were needed. This is not true.