Political wrangling held back the progress of reform in Albania and Bosnia & Herzegovina in 2014, say MEPs in two separate resolutions voted on Thursday. Both countries need to strengthen their democratic processes, tackle corruption and put in place professional and depoliticised public administrations. By cooperating to achieve these aims, their political forces can move them closer to the EU, they add.
Albania urged to establish a solid track record for EU-related reforms
MEPs commend Albania for winning EU candidate status and see this as an incentive to step up its reform efforts still further. However, they warn that continuing political polarisation there could further jeopardise its EU integration efforts. They call on both the ruling coalition and the opposition to cooperate responsibly and constructively.
MEPs are also "disturbed by statements made by the Albanian Prime Minister in which he speculated about the unification of Albanians from Albania and Kosovo."
"Albania's government is currently working on key reforms necessary to make the country fit for EU membership. These crucial reforms need to be debated broadly in parliament but also with civil society", said rapporteur on Albania Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, DE). "I want to encourage Albania to pursue and intensify its reform efforts in order to open EU accession negotiations as soon as possible", he added.
Parliament notes that fighting organised crime remains a major challenge. Albania should also do more to ensure the independence, efficiency and accountability of the judiciary and to guarantee the independence of the public broadcaster, the text says. MEPs also praise Albania for its climate of religious tolerance, its constructive and pro-active stance in regional and bilateral cooperation, particularly vis-à-vis Serbia, and its full alignment with EU foreign policy positions.
Bosnia & Herzegovina: political elites must show clear commitment
Parliament calls on the political elites of Bosnia & Herzegovina to show unequivocal commitment to, and engagement in, resuming the reform process and moving closer to the EU. It stresses that political stalemate, overly complex and ineffective institutional architecture and a lack of cooperation between political leaders, are seriously impeding the country’s stabilisation and development.
"The European Parliament has endorsed the new EU approach towards Bosnia & Herzegovina, approved in December 2014 by the EU Council of Ministers. Serious challenges lie ahead for its new authorities, which will now have to embark on a broad reform programme," said rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cristian Dan Preda (EPP, RO). "We are all committed to putting the country back on track for EU membership. But for that to happen, its authorities will have to show courage in implementing reforms," he added.
While welcoming the written commitment to EU integration, approved by the country’s presidency, signed by leaders of all its political parties and endorsed by its parliament, MEPs single out its effective implementation as crucial and ask for a specific roadmap for a broad and inclusive reform agenda to advance Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path towards the EU.
MEPs are concerned about the recent declaration by the congress of the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) calling for an independence referendum for Republika Srpska in 2018, which goes against commitments to the territorial integrity of Bosnia & Herzegovina enshrined in the written commitment.
They also say the European Commission should pay particular attention to the implementation of the Sejdić-Finci ruling and welcome the entry into force of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, set for June 1 2015.
Procedure: Non-legislative resolutions
REF. : 20150424IPR45741