European Commission: Vetting Follows “Expected Timelines”

Considering the utter and total silence of EU Ambassador Romana Vlahutin regarding the possible involvement of former Minister of Interior Saimir Tahiri, and the implication of many of the drafters of the judicial reform in a – from a legal and constitutional perspective – poorly argued defense of the former right hand of Prime Minister Edi Rama, Exit reached out to EU spokesperson Maja Kocijančič for an official response of the European Commission.

Asked whether the European Commission agreed that the Albanian justice system and Parliament should take all the necessary legal steps to ensure that, if any crimes were indeed committed by the former minister, are brought to light, the EC responded:

We are aware of the issue and we expect that the Albanian authorities will conduct any investigations in line with international standards. […]

Drug cultivation and trafficking in Albania is a serious challenge. The Albanian authorities are pursuing actions against cultivation and trafficking of cannabis, in cooperation with EU Member States. We are aware of a number of police operations linked to the trafficking of drugs cultivated in or transited through Albania.

As we have repeatedly stressed, the authorities of Albania have to further build on these results and make more efforts to improve the eradication of cannabis plants and dismantle criminal networks, also in the context of international police cooperation.

The European Union is closely monitoring Albania’s efforts in the fight against organised crime, including drug trafficking, as this is one of the five key priorities identified for Albania to open accession negotiations.

Exit also inquired how do the EC qualified Prime Minister Edi Rama’s statements that he expects the “new justice” of the post-vetting judicial system to declare the deputy in question innocent?

Our position on the vetting has always been clear: a solid and credible implementation of the re-evaluation process is a crucial step for Albania to progress towards the European Union.

Finally, Exit asked about the timeframe in which the vetting will be actually starting, considering the claims of EU Ambassador Romana Vlahutin that it would start in September,

As the European Commission leads the International Monitoring Operation, we are aware that complex inception and preparatory steps have advanced in line with the expected timelines for the vetting institutions to carry out their tasks.

The EC also confirmed that the “preparatory steps” of the vetting, have “advanced in line with the expected timelines.” So either Ambassador Vlahutin has been overtly and misleadingly optimistic (not the first time), or the EC has a very flexible understanding of implementation timelines (also not the first time)