Plenary speech on the situation in Albania

Marietje
Mr President, I had a very interesting day today when it comes to Albania. I have spoken to the representatives of the two main political parties there. I asked both of them to share ideas on how to move the country forward and how to break the political stalemate to focus on problems affecting all citizens: fighting organised crime, ending corruption, creating employment and opportunities for the young generation. None of them was able to come up with an answer. The blame game seemed more important. It occurs to me that the political establishment in Albania is more concerned with itself than with its people. I do not have to tell you how difficult it is for us to convince our constituents to join us when we are making the case for EU enlargement. Despite resistance, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe would like to see the Western Balkans become part of the territory of the European Union. We believe that the EU is a community of values which has left behind a divided past, choosing a united future. We must call on the Albanian authorities to do the same and not be suffocated by the shadows of the past, but to step into the light of the future. And let them not forget that it is their responsibility, first and foremost, to provide for the wellbeing of citizens and not to deny them a European future, because it is crystal clear that the political crisis hampers any and all progress. New elections will take place in May and the preparations are under way. They should be supported by all political parties. I welcome the suggestion that the EU should play an active role in ensuring that they are both free and fair. But democracy is a long process and it is certainly more than just ‘one man, one vote’. It requires democratic institutions, the rule of law and its strength is determined by respect for minorities. Democracy is not ‘winner takes all’. EU accession is a long journey which requires hard work and shared commitment, and the reforms Albania has made are best served by collaboration and continuing commitment to the EU process.