Delegation of the European Union to Albania

Full speech of EU Ambassador Romana Vlahutin at the EURALIUS V Launch Event

Tiranë, Shqipëri, 13/06/2018 - 15:38, UNIQUE ID: 180613_16
Local Statements

Dear Minister, dear State Secretary, fellow Ambassadors, dear Euralius Team

I am very happy and proud to welcome you at the Launch of Euralius V project, one of the key flagship projects that European Union has deployed to assist and accompany very deep and comprehensive reform process in Albania.

EURALIUS V follows the incredible work done by its predecessor, EURALIUS IV, a mission that I firmly believe has become a part of the history of modern Albania, and a model that is now being replicated across the region and beyond. Endless hours of hard work, dedication and commitment to assist the justice reform process went way beyond the usual call of duty, and have also raised the bar very high for all other missions that will operate here.

The Team managed to successfully go through not only enormous amount of work ( just to remind us that in essence this was a Constitutional Reform which brought change to the 1/3 of Albanian Constitution and introduced around 40 new or modified pieces of legislation), but also a lot of  pressure from interest groups who tried everything to stop, disable and deligitimise the reform.

But Euralius, together with all other colleagues who worked on the reform, from Albanian experts to Opdat, firmly stood the ground, and ensured that the best EU standards are preserved in all their proposals, opinions and contributions to the beneficiary;

EURALIUS V is the continuation of EURALIUS IV with an equally important mission - they have all the necessary institutional memory, technical knowledge and skills to ensure continuity and assist the implementation of the reform.

When you look realistically what has been achieved in just few years, it is massive. Vetting process has proved to be functioning, the priority list will be finished before the autumn so that new institutions can be formed, and the new judicial system replenished with new people and new rules.

Maybe it is important to repeat at this moment that without this major reform Albania would have to wait many more years for the positive recommendation to open accession talks, years that the people of Albania could not afford to lose.

Even more, by doing such a difficult and brave reform, Albania has frontloaded most of the content of Chapters 23 and 24 and saved time in the future. This is an unprecended undertaking and has singled out Albania as a model formany.

I feel confident and proud that the Parliament, the Ministry of Justice, the School of Magistrates and all the other institutions will have many more opportunities to profit from the high level expertise of our project in the coming years as well, so that the painstaking work of the implementation of the Judicial Reform can be brought to a successful end.

To ensure this, our EURALIUS Team has been doubled and brings again the best experience from EU Courts, training academia and judicial governance structures;

Euralius is at the moment also engaged in examining a legal framework of another major deficiency of the Albanian reality, and that is a protection and management of property rights. The infringement of property rights in Albania has left many grave injustices and this is continuing as we speak. With the assistance of Euralius European Union wants to provide additional expertise and best intellectual legal advise to tackle this issue which is first and foremost the issue of fundamental human rights and transitional justice, but also very much the issue of functioning judiciary, law enforcement, fight against corruption and enabling environment for the economic growth.

What we try to do through Euralius and other missions and reforms we support is about making Albanian society a more just society, and modernisation of the State which needs to ensure equal rights and opportunities for all.

True and honest and deep reforms can be done only with courage, lots of courage.

I have seen how the battle for the judicial reform was a battle where the opponents were trying to use the good old instrument of fear to bring doubt, insecurity , cynicism, confusion and destroy hope and trust that change is possible.

Change takes time, it takes patience, it takes also some setbacks. But what is important is that there is no going back. New judicial system in Albania is now a constitutional reality, and it has paved the way for Albania to change and progress, and for the new generations of lawyers, judges and prosecutors to bring new quality to the system.

This is a message to all the young student magistrates, to the many hard working and honest judges and prosecutors and to all honest Albanian citizens who long for justice;

Being part of the judicial system of the country is a great civil service. It cannot be done if you don't walk proud and this is exactly what we wanted to help with – restore the trust and the pride into one of the most important professions in the society.

In the end I want to thank to all of you who contributed in every way you could, Euralius Team of course, but also all Albanian colleagues without whose constructive collaboration success would not have been possible, all other colleagues form Member States and the US and the citizens of Albania who stood by us at all times.