Delegation of the European Union to Albania

Interview published for the Albanian "Shekulli" Newspaper on 16 January 2018

Tirana, Albania, 01/01/2021 - 19:24, UNIQUE ID: 210118_20
News clippings - in the press

1.      What do you think for the judicial system of Albania?

As already stated in an end-of-year Op-Ed*, this is time for change in the judiciary of Albania. This was recently marked with the establishment of the first set of new institutions that will guarantee independent self-governing of the judiciary.

The thorough and comprehensive justice reform that is being implemented goes hand-in-hand with the vetting process. Results to date demonstrate that the courageous and forward looking choice of political parties, back in 2016, to unanimously agree on changing the Constitution and set in motion deep institutional changes to the sector, was a necessary move.

2.      Do you see any progress on the issue of Constitutional Court and other Judicial body?

The temporary restrictions in the functioning of the Constitutional Court and other judicial bodies due to the outcome of the vetting seem necessary to build a judiciary that citizens can trust. But it is now crucial that all the authorities responsible to appoint members at the Constitutional Court exercise their duties in a timely and professional manner, so that the current institutional vacuum at the Constitutional Court can be filled shortly.

3.      Are you agree with the international conclusion for some judges that are passing the Vetting process without honesty?

Checks and balances are foreseen throughout the vetting process. Auxiliary bodies provide information that is used for verification and protects the integrity of the process. Furthermore, if the International Observers of the IMO consider that conclusions drawn by the vetting institutions can be subject to a different interpretation, they can raise the issue to the attention of the Public Commissioners, as this has already been done in a few cases. The institution of the Public Commissioners is mandated to defend the public interest in the process. To date, the Public Commissioners have submitted several requests for appeal, so that first instance decisions by the Independent Qualification Commission can be reviewed by the Appellate Chamber. On this basis, we can say that the vetting is carried out thoroughly.

4.      How long does this process will take?

There are clear institutional deadlines foreseen in the Constitution and in the relevant secondary legislation. However the most important thing in such important processes is that quality and thoroughness of investigation is never compromised for the sake of speeding up.

5.      Does European Union will make a decision this summer for Albanian peoples for Albanian status?

The European Commission already issued an unconditional recommendation to open accession negotiations with Albania. EU Member States will discuss the matter at the European Council in June.

6.      Is there any serious problem that Albania need to resolve?

In the Council Conclusions of June 2018, EU Member States have issued a clear set of observations on the progress that is expected by Albania. The vetting has to continue. The new independent judicial structures and specialised bodies have to be established. Further tangible results in the fight against corruption and organised crime need to be achieved. In addition, it remains of particular importance that Albania addresses in its electoral reform the outstanding recommendations of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE-ODIHR). The Council also attaches particular importance to Albania's continued efforts in reducing the number of manifestly unfounded asylum applications. There is hence a need for all institutions, political parties and civil society at large to ensure a very close collaboration to advance on all these areas sustainably and swiftly.