EC Report, Former Foreign Minister's Speech in Parliament
Albanian Daily News
Published May 30, 2019
Former Foreign Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Ditmir Bushati, has spoken this Thursday in the Parliament session, regarding the European Commission's Report on the opening of accession negotiations for Albania.
Full speech as below:
Ladies and gentlemen MPs,
Today I think we are at a very important moment as Mrs. Hajdari and Mrs. Balla said before me, not just for the report prepared by the National Council of European Integration but because this report is approved only one day after the publication of the European Commission report where the European Commission itself reiterated its recommendation to start membership talks for Albania, based on the unanimously agreed agenda by all member states in June 2018, in response to the European Commission's annual recommendation.
This is not a gift from the European Commission to the government of Albania, nor to Albania. The report is a reflection of the progress made in the progress of our country's reforms and the consolidation of these reforms over the last year, especially as regards the reforms in the area of rule of law with a particular focus on the process of judicial clearance and prosecution, and building a new architecture in the justice system.
Reforms in the field of economic and social development, despite keeping away Albania and the Western Balkans from the average of EU member states, show that the country is on the right track. Reforms aimed at implementing European standards and Acquis Communautaire in our daily lives.
This report also confirms the irreplaceable role of Albania in the region, Albania as an anchor of stability and security, the inspiration of peace and understanding for its neighbors. It is no coincidence that the report specifies once again the fact that our country aligns its position on the foreign and security policy and the 100% defense with the EU. As mentioned here a while ago that there are other countries that even though they are made before Albania as candidate countries or are on the membership negotiation table, allow themselves to apply garbage policy and sit on two chairs.
This is the clearest testimony of Albania's European and Euro-Atlantic vocation. It is no coincidence that the report also identifies the strong support and irreplaceable role of Albania in signing the Prespa Agreement and the power of political and social action of Albanians living in northern Macedonia.
Well, the report provides a clear picture of all achievements. But on the other hand, it offers a way forward and a mirror where we all have to see ourselves not to repeat the mistakes of the past or to fall into the trap of complacency.
Mr. Balla mentioned that he has 14 years in this room. I have 10 years in this room and I felt sorry and I felt somewhat sad when I saw yesterday the opposition's reactions to this success of Albania. They were a reflection of the culture of despair. I can go even further if I can say that in the years of transition of Albania over these three decades we all have cultivated the culture of humiliating the contradiction, as this is our final day.
I was a Foreign Minister and in 2016 I had faced other colleagues from the Democratic Party. We did exactly the same debate when the Commission came with a recommendation that related to the vetting process. Likewise, in 2018, we have made a big debate with the opposition, unfortunately here in Parliament if the recommendation would set the stage for starting membership talks or not, and if the calendar approved by the member states would be respected or not, and whose fault it was. And unfortunately, I have the impression that we forget that before the political parties, our political, party, personal interests, Albania is our common homeland.
I am happy to make it clear today and once again that the government in this process simply has the main burden, it has to do the task, but the responsibility is shared, for them, for us who are in charge of the country and those, or you who are the opposition , both the parliamentary opposition and the political opposition.
Merit? Merit is only to Albanians. And the fact that since the collapse of the communist regime, over 90% of Albanians have no doubt about the course of Albania. That is why the European Commission report notes some shortcomings that cannot be met by the majority because of the lack of political opposition, both in terms of parliamentary control, the quality of laws, the institutionalization of justice reform, and the fulfillment of all vacancies and so on.
The third issue that I now wish to put together with you is about what I believe to think of the most silent, ordinary citizens of this country. The ordinary citizens of this country are not expecting negotiations with the European Union in the classical sense of the word because we know very well that we are not negotiating with the EU, but we want to imitate and build some standards increase the well-being in this country and keep the Albanians here, to create here the Albanian perspective. So I have always called it this is the test of the modernity of Albanian society. Defining in the first place of a common denominator how we will move politically to improve living standards here. That is why it is time for greater political understanding.
I entered politics in 2009, the day the government of Berisha applied for the country's EU membership. 10 years later it is not worth doing more games, we have not yet started the process of membership talks, but we are closer than ever to this reality. Therefore we should not stumble because at the end of the day we penalize Albania, we do not penalize either the government or the opposition, but Albania.
I am convinced that the silent majority of this country today requires dialogue and understanding, not confrontation.
Today, it requires a European Albania with equal opportunities and not discrimination and exclusion.
Today, Albania requires an economy based on knowledge economy and not an Albania based on the free labor force.
Today Albanians seek a progressive capitalism that creates equal opportunities for all, not capitalism based on predatory politics.
This is the reason we and 90% of Albanians are looking for European Union. That is why Albanian Socialists and Progressives extend our cooperation in the framework of electoral reform, both for the parliamentary opposition and for the political opposition. That is why Albanian Socialists and Progressives extend our cooperation to overcome any kind of political separation because Albania is most important to us. Not because we had to go to Teresa May and remind us that compromise is not a dirty word, but that we are aware that European Albania demands another responsibility.
This Parliament, the entire political class, at least for the sake of the image, should unilaterally ask the member states of the European Union to start the membership talks for Albania. It is in the interest of Albania, it is in the interest of the government, it is in the interest of the opposition, it is in the interest of Albanians in the region who are used to seeing Albania, to see Tirana as a source of inspiration. But it is also in the interest of the European Union, because Albania and the Albanian people have always demonstrated that they are Europeans in spirit and in action.