Failed EU Bid Left Albania Elite ‘Unfazed’, Expert Says

A visit by EU Commissioner Stefan Fule to Tirana has not caused much reflection among the political elite about Albania’s stalled EU integration process, a local expert says.“Albania’s political class has shown repeatedly in the last three years that its narrow political gains trump any other priority required for EU integration,” Gjergji Vurmo, an expert at the Institute for Democracy and Mediation in Tirana, told Balkan Insight.

Vurmo said Brussels has now all but exhausted its supply of “sticks and carrots” to encourage cooperation between feuding government and opposition parties in Albania.

In the conditions of a developed democratic culture, the third rejection of EU candidate status should have provoked more drastic changes of heart, he maintains.

Despite obtaining a conditional recommendation from the European Commission, which required the approval of three laws, the EU Council of Ministers rejected Albania’s bid for candidate status in December 2012.

“Albania’s political class should become conscious of its responsibilities for the step backward in the accession process,” Vurmo added.

During his stay in Tirana on Monday Fule held meetings with President Bujar Nishani, Prime Minister Sali Berisha and with the chairman of the opposition Socialist Party, Edi Rama.

He called on local leaders to deliver elections in June in line with international standards, to improve the credibility of democratic institutions and strengthen the accountability of politicians.

“The successful conduct of parliamentary elections in 2013 will be a crucial test for the smooth functioning of the country’s democratic institutions,” Fule underlined.

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