The adoption of the justice reform represents a moment in time that started a new “era” for rule of law in Albania. It is one of the most important steps taken by the country in the 30 years since the fall of the dictatorship. It marked a decisive start for a modern and European Albania.
That moment deserves today to be remembered. Adopting the reform took courage, trust, hard work and strong commitment.
The implementation phase in these five years have brought the acknowledgement of the complexity of the reform. Its implementation has not been easy, has not been perfect. But these five years have brought us also the conviction about the necessity of this reform. It is essential for Albania to move forward away from its past, towards a European future.
The period of implementation has also confirmed to us all that when Albania and Albanians work together and unite forces, all is possible. When there is a will, there is a way.
Putting the reform into practice has been hard. Particularly so because it is fight against impunity, fight to regain public trust and most importantly, fight to re-establish integrity as a core value.
An effective implementation requires follow-up, commitment, engagement and intensified dialogue. It requires strength to go on when it there are some who are unwilling to cooperate or be constructive.
It requires strength, sometimes pragmatism. It requires resilience, competence and leadership.
Resilience means standing up and trying again when the formula doesn’t immediately meet the huge expectations.
Competence is the ability and drive to apply the highest EU standards possible.
Leadership implies enhanced coordination, cooperation and ability to reach a sustainable agreement, choosing the right advice at the right time, with a solution and cooperation minded attitude, for the success of the justice reform.
Let me therefore take the occasion today to ask for more resilience, more co-operation and consultation, and more leadership from all sides of the political spectrum, from all justice institutions, and from civil society and academia.
The ongoing work on the efficiency of the judiciary is in my view the priority of priorities. Focusing on delivering on the basic expectation of the citizens: efficiently delivering justice.
It is then important to secure some of the greatest gains of the justice reform – the independence and integrity of the justice system- in the next months when some of the new institutions will be renovated.
We consider that the main objective for the next five years is to work even harder to close and seal the implementation of the reform. The new Parliament in September will have important responsibilities and will be scrutinised on their engagement.
After five years, and at the end of the first cross-sector justice strategy, we find ourselves in a pivotal moment. The constitutional and legal basis is in place, the institutional framework is complete, the first results in terms of fight against impunity and corruption have been achieved. The new, second justice strategy, must take the reform to the next step: its proclaimed goal of the approximation of the Albanian justice system with the best European standards in all its aspects.
The strategy is a tool. An important tool of coordination and cooperation on the next steps for the justice reform. It is encouraging to see around the table today all the main players, engaged in the planning for the future. It is a good way to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the justice reform.
Justice Reform remains a top priority for the EU in Albania. The EU and its Member States investment in the sector speaks louder than words in this regard. We have supported the justice reform at all levels, in all forms and with considerable financial engagement of 50 million EUR so far, and another 9 million EUR coming. We will not stop doing so because we want to see Albania closer to the EU.
Bringing Albania closer to the EU has been my personal commitment since day one and will be until I leave. Visa liberalisation back in 2010 opened one door, justice reform has highly contributed to open another door last year with the decision of opening negotiations. I hope that the main door of starting accession talks will open very soon.
Let me conclude by thanking all the authorities present today and those who are not here but were instrumental to the adoption of the justice reform. Thank you for working hard for the just European Albania that so many Albanians want.