I am delighted to be back to Tirana, on the occasion of the launch of International Monitoring Operation (IMO) for the vetting of members of the Albanian judiciary.
This morning we have constituted the Management Board that will be coordinating the work of the IMO
Throughout the process, the IMO Management Board will maintain an oversight and coordination role for these monitoring efforts by the international community.
It is very important to repeat that the International Monitoring Operation is going to conduct robust monitoring of the vetting process, but is not going to make executive decisions.
All final decisions in this process will lie with the Albanian authorities.
As of tomorrow, a team of very qualified senior experts from both EU Member States and the United States of America, who act as short-term international observers, will be deployed to monitor the first phase of the process, which is the selection of the Albanian members of the vetting bodies.
The IMO will elaborate a recommendation to the Assembly, through the Ombudsperson Office, concerning the selection of the candidates to the vetting organs.
But, it will be up to the representatives of the Albanian Parliament to complete the procedure and nominate the members of the vetting bodies.
Once the vetting organs are formed, the second phase starts, and the European Commission in cooperation with the United States of America will deploy a team of long-term international observers, again, senior and extremely qualified, who will monitor the entire vetting process.
I can reassure you that the IMO will perform its tasks with professionalism, impartiality and in accordance with the law.
To conclude, I now would like to commend the authorities of Albania for establishing a very thorough and comprehensive framework for justice reform, which included such a structured and rigorous approach to tackle issues related to professionalism across the judiciary.
I count on their continuous cooperation and support in all of the next phases of the process.
I would like to recall the European Commission's conditional recommendation to open accession negotiations.
This recommendation was a clear acknowledgement that Albania has made steady progress on the Five Key Priorities, as well as in other important policy areas.
The Commission’s recommendation also highlighted the need to responsibly follow up on these reform processes through, and I quote, “credible and tangible progress in the implementation of the justice reform, in particular the re-evaluation of judges and prosecutors (vetting)”.
I believe our message is clear. This is a vital process to open the door to the accession negotiations of Albania with the EU.
Let me now conclude with a word of gratitude for all who contributed to the reform, and especially the people of Albania who have been extremely vocal in demanding an independent, impartial, accountable and professional judiciary across the country.
We will do the utmost to fulfil their ambition.