By Erl Murati
The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the Socialist Party-led opposition appear to be working at reaching a consensus to defuse the existing political crises which has stalled Albania’s EU integration.
Last October, the EU foreign ministers rejected Albania’s application to obtain an EU candidate status citing the political impasse as a reason.
On Monday (December 12th), the two sides agreed at the parliamentary integration committee to start working on a New Action Plan draft to fulfill the twelve EC recommendations.
Integration Committee member Taulant Balla told SETimes the SP is fully supportive of the EU integration process.
“We can hope for a positive answer from Brussels next year, if the established dialogue between the majority and the opposition is stable,” Bala said.
He explained that the parliament is responsible for five out of the 12 EU recommendations, while the government will handle the other seven.
On two, organized crime and corruption, Bala charged the government for not doing anything. “It is not the opposition but the police that has to be effective,” he said.
“The majority’s behavior to pressure the judicial system sends a negative signal. The opposition is fully committed to work to earn candidate status, but the ball is in the government’s court,” Balla added.
Despite the criticism, Integration Minister Majlinda Bregu is optimistic about the potential consensus results.
“Nothing is impossible if the dialogue goes on and we have concrete results at the parliamentary committees for consensus awaiting laws. All the chances are that in 2012 we will obtain EU candidate status, if the Socialist Party does not obstruct the laws’ approval,” Bregu told SETimes.
She warned not everything is up to the government as the opposition must show commitment to fulfill the Action Plan that will be approved next year.
Foreign Affairs Committee head Fatos Beja told SETimes he is encouraged that parliament is functioning normally after a long time.
“[It] is a good basis which promises that the majority-opposition cooperation will go on in 2012. This means, unblocking the fulfillment of the 12 European Commission criteria,” Beja said.
In an attempt to support the positive developments, a European Parliament delegation chaired by Eduard Kukan visited Tirana.
“It is necessary for Albania to reach the next train to EU,” Kukan told the Albanian politicians.
Political observers however, do not share the politicians’ optimistic projections that Albania can reach the next train to the EU.
“The action plan discussed at the integration committee does not contain specific and very explicit terms and obligations, and this is not very hopeful. We will have opinion-splitting and disputes will erupt when the discussions start on the opposition demands, electoral reform and parliamentary rules-of-procedure reform,” analyst Ilir Dhima told SETimes.
Another analyst, Rudina Hoxha, told SETimes that Albanian politicians should appreciate the level of EU investment in finding a consensus between the two main parties.
“The DP-SP consensus highlights more than ever EU’s role in getting the two main political parties on the same table. But it is understood that to achieve this, the price was high. The responsibility [the parties have] is too big and time is flying away. An unproductive consensus just to lie to Europe would be a boomerang for Albania,” Hoxha concluded.