Albania: EU Integration And Its Main Political Actors – OpEd


Every time that Albania is a step closer to the European Union there is political tension in Tirana. Main political sides splatter their black gloves against each other just like medieval knights who are getting ready for a fight.  The local media is raising hypothetical clouds full of amateur statements on the positions that are “in favor” or “against” integration.

Between the confrontational politics and the presumptions of communications media there is an intertwinement of opportunistic layers that are neither positive nor negative that aim to bring together all unacceptable attitudes and tendencies.

In this context, just like in the position of diplomatic neutrality, foreign diplomats are simply adding oil to a thurible that is burning incense and is becoming intolerable to the Albanian public opinion.

Different actors, similar attitude

This history has been repeated for many years in Albania’s Euro-Atlantic Journey.  Albanian political actors, who represent the Socialist Party and the Democratic Party, pursue controversial approaches towards European integration…

When they are leading the executive branch they hold the flag of integration domination against the opposition with or without any legitimate right…when becoming an opposition party they accuse vehemently with or without any right the possessive attitude of the political majority…

In such a cyclical history that accompanies the Euro-Atlantic Integration process of Albania, the main political actors replace one another on their respective positions in running the government as well as being part of the opposition. 

Meanwhile, such a rotation is changing the representation numbers but the path of political stance continues to be the same.  It is a stereotypical political attitude that is only changing places in parliament, a place that is equally deemed as comical and dramatic.  The pertinent dramatic situation affects my countrymen; in the meantime comic attitude is a blanket for all political buffoons.

Ownership of political parties in power 

The attempt to ‘own’ or possess governing political parties in their course towards Euro-Atlantic Integration is one of the main causes that generates such a stereotypical approach pursued by key Albanian political actors. 

Such a possessive attitude of parties in majority towards the accomplishments in Albania’s integration provokes the reaction of opposition parties, which are doing everything possible to hinder integration advancements; while their only objective is to ensure the absence of domestic credentials to the political party that is ruling the country.

The two great political actors, Socialist Party and Democratic Party, despite of their political position, aim paradoxically to humiliate their respective political adversaries, without even realizing that they heavily harm the Albanian citizen and are worsening ever more the image of Albania in the European Union as well as further reduce the international reputation of our country.

The core of majority’s ownership approach towards integration is focused on how to further hold power.  For this political reason majorities are encompassed by political arrogance.  Such arrogance pursues mechanisms “that are already exhausted” but are borrowed in a copy paste fashion by the earlier parties in government: ignoring and excluding the opposition party from integration engagements. 

Blaming the opposition parties 

Faced with an effort of political parties in power to use integration as a political credential in the internal market, the opposition parties behave with a local attitude and in many occasions they “throw away a baby and a dirty water altogether;” therefore serving as an obstacle to the integration course of actions, due to domestic policy failures of the political coalition in power.   

At the core of such an attitude by the opposition party is the struggle for power, more than any other priority.  Opposition parties are engulfed into an obstructive path.  Such an obstructive path is using two mechanisms “that are exhausted already,” which were borrowed by the previous oppositions: the internal boycott and placing integration into a grid lock.

Nihilism towards continuity

With such a stereotypical attitude of more than two decades, the two main political actors; are characterized by self nihilism at their core.  We say within them because such a political cast while embracing a boycott domestically and blocking the way to integration; is only neglecting and ignoring the progress that is accomplished when either the left or right wing was running the government.  Therefore with their actions of ignoring progressive steps towards integration made by political parties in the majority, the opposition parties are even ignoring contributions made also by their leadership when running the country.

Unfortunately Albania’s political actors do not consider the fact that integration is a process. As an ongoing process, integration is an accomplishment during a long period of time, during that period there have occurred political rotations, with an ongoing alternation of majority and opposition among the two largest political parties.  Such a process is expected to be very long and as a result will be followed by many other political rotations.  This process has been underestimated by the main political actors, Socialist Party and Democratic Party; they are underestimating the fact of continuity of government, whether they are in power or in opposition.

Overlooking the overall inclusiveness  

In this history of political stereotypes what trespasses the two main political actors is their non-European behavior, which violates the fourth principle of European Governance that is the overall inclusiveness or, understood in other words, a decision making process that involves all parties.  

Instead of the overall inclusiveness the main political actors, Socialist Party and Democratic Party, prefer the expulsion.  In fact expulsion is completely against the philosophy, principles, concepts, politics and the multi-institutional structure of many levels in the European Union.

At the same time, in this structure of European Democracy are coexisting individuals, village halls, cantons, states, provinces and European Institutions.  Such a vertical structure filled by diversity exists and functions in a very cohesive fashion thanks to overall inclusiveness.

In front of this democratic model with a political diversity and functional cohesion, Albanian democracy is faced with a conflictive political model that unfortunately is not interconnected.

Such a principal clash between the model of European Democracy and the wrecked model of Albanian democracy is rooted in the notorious scarcity of the overall inclusiveness and its important principles.

SMI, the third political actor has proved to be the most constructive

The Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI), Albania’s third largest political actor, has been playing an ever growing role in the nation’s political landscape. Such a political party, even though it has a lesser weight on the Albanian Parliament, has been able to overcome the ideological particularities.  Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI) has understood – much better than the Socialist Party and Democratic Party – the fact that “politics in a democratic system is mostly based on science rather than ideology.”

SMI is the first political force that tore apart Albania’s mediocre ideological misconceptions.  Such a breakout of ideological stereotypes was interpreted in many ways.  The left wing fanatics called it “an ideological betrayal of the left.”  The right wing fanatics called it “a struggle for an endless role in government.”

The two extremist sides, left or right are influenced by fanaticism in their political philosophy.  They are undoubtedly less European than others.  SMI with its post-particular attitude has overcome the ideological borders, has contributed towards the continuation of integration processes, it has become a bridging point that ensures a consensus on the overall legislative measures that are pursued for the drafting of national reforms.

There is no doubt that the third political actor, Socialist Movement for Integration Party (SMI) has brought a new era of attitude and contributed towards Albania’s European Integration processes undertaken from within its institutions; it has been more consistent in the nation’s path to integration.  Continuity and overall inclusiveness are the dominating principles within the political philosophy of SMI; and this is a European philosophy. 

Translation from Albanian Language: Peter M. Tase

*Prof. Dr. Lisen Bashkurti is the President of Albanian Diplomatic Academy in Albania. Prof. Dr. Bashkurti has been a Chancellor in a number of Universities in the Balkan Peninsula. He is also the Global Vice President of Sun Moon University in South Korea. As a distinguished scholar of international relations he has received many international awards including: A “Gold Medal” for his research on US-Albanian Partnership,” “Four Silver Medals” for his great contribution during his service as Albania’s Ambassador to Hungary (1992-1993); appointed as “Peace Ambassador” from the International Peace Foundation, United Nations (2009). He is the author of more than 18 books that cover a range of issues including: International Affairs, Negotiations and Conflict Resolution, International Diplomacy, Multilateral Diplomacy and Diplomatic History. He is an honorary professor in many prestigious European Universities and an honorary fellow to a number of prominent International Institutions.

Dr. Lisen Bashkurti

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lisen Bashkurti is the Dean of the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences (FLSS), Epoka University, Tirana, Albania. In 1992-1993, Bashkurti was the ambassador of Albania to the Republic of Hungary.

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