From: Alice Taylor
Soreca: EUR 11 to be Given to Albania to Buy Vaccines, Intergovernmental Conference in June

The European Union will provide EUR 11 million to Albania for the purchase of vaccines and equipment to complete the vaccination plan. The news was given by EU Ambassador Soreca in an interview with News24 on Saturday.

He announced that “the first EUR 90 million of macro-financial assistance that the European Union has promised and contracted with Albania will be provided on April 1.”

“The second tranche of EUR 90 million euros will be given in the summer, which is a short period of time given the amount we are talking about.”

Soreca then said that the Intergovernmental Conference could be held in June. He said that Albania must continue the fight against organized crime and corruption:

“This is our objective, June is the period for the first Intergovernmental Conference. It is important now that while Albania continues to do the work that is needed in the fight against organized crime, corruption, the continuation of the construction of the judicial reform. Member States should see this ongoing commitment and therefore will have to decide. We hope that the decision for June will be positive,” he said.

Soreca called on political parties to choose candidates for MP with integrity:

“The law of decriminalization must be fully implemented, Why? Because we are at the starting point of negotiations and the new parliament must undergo reforms in areas such as the fight against organized crime, corruption, and to do so you must have high standards of integrity of members of parliament. Monday is the deadline for submitting candidacies. We look forward to seeing the list and we will certainly make our assessment. “

A recent report from the State Department gave a stark contrast to the positive reviews by the EU on topics such as rule of law and corruption. They noted that the government had made “no significant progress” in tackling financial crime including money laundering during 2020. It also noted that Albania was a source country for cannabis, a transit country for trafficking hard drugs and that Albanian criminals were exporting their growing to other EU countries.

The report also found that the proceeds of drug trafficking were laundered in the country. While the government had made some efforts to combat drugs, they were hampered by a weak rule of law and corruption.

Pervasive corruption and undermining of the rule of law mean that ongoing judicial reforms such as the vetting process and addressing money laundering have been hampered.

Illicit funds are typically laundered into real estate and the country’s black market is considered “substantial.”

Yesterday, the European Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted a report on Albania in favor of starting accession talks as soon as the country meets the 15 conditions set by the European Council.

“They support the convening of the first intergovernmental conference without further delay, following the complete fulfillment of conditions set by the European Council, which would formally mark the start of accession negotiations with the EU,” an AFET press release notes.

The inclusion of the phrase “following the complete fulfillment of conditions…” was added to the updated press release at the request of MEP David Lega.

The conditions and the AFET report include prosecution of those involved in vote-rigging allegations.

It further notes that to ensure the accession process is credible, milestones must be accomplished.