European Western Balkans

Bundestag adopts nine conditions for Tirana and general guidelines for negotiations

German Bundestag; Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Jürgen Matern

BERLIN – German Parliament adopted two proposals by the ruling CDU/CSU and SPD last night, allowing the Government to support opening of EU negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia and adding a set of nine conditions before Tirana opens its first chapters. No such conditions were stipulated when it comes to Skopje.

In the proposal for Albania, adopted with 395 votes in favour and 188 against, the Bundestag demands that the Government agrees to open EU negotiations with Albania only under the conditions that the first accession conference takes place when the functioning of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court staffed with the vetted judges and prosecutors is ensured.

The second condition for Albania to hold the first accession conference with the EU is the conclusion of the electoral reform in line with the recommendations of OSCE/ODHR and the results of work of the ad hoc Committee on Electoral Reform.

It is only the second accession conference in which Albania will be able to actually open negotiating chapters. Among the seven conditions for this conference to take place are the implementation of the electoral reform, launch of criminal proceedings against judges that have failed the vetting process as well as persons responsible for the buying of votes during elections and establishment of a special body for the fight against corruption and organised crime.

The rest of the conditions include tangible progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime and administrative reform, with the final condition being the decision on the legality of local elections held on 30 June 2019.

No such specific conditions for holding accession conferences have been stipulated for North Macedonia. The proposed document on this country was adopted with 465 votes in favour and 122 against.

Zoran Zaev and Edi Rama; PHOTO: Flickr

However, both proposals emphasise that there should be clear criteria for opening and closing of negotiating chapters and that Chapters 23 and 24, dealing with the rule of law, should be opened first and closed last, much akin to the negotiating process with Serbia and Montenegro.

The topics of functioning democratic institutions, economic development, good neigbourly relations, freedom of the press, minority rights and lively civil society should be in the focus throughout the process of negotiations, both documents read.

Reactions: Encouragement for further reforms

Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov tweeted that the Bundestag has shown true leadership by giving his country a “strong green light” to start the negotiations.

“The recognition of the achievements of North Macedonia encourage us to progress further and become better. Our efforts have been reworded and we will continue to deliver”, Dimitrov wrote.

Albanian President Ilir Meta welcomed the decision, emphasisng the work that is yet to be done.

“It is now urgent to work quickly to resolve the severe political crisis and to meet the nine clear criteria. If their advice had been heard in time, today we would have an unconditional decision just like North Macedonia”, President Meta posted on Facebook.

Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Enlargement Negotiations, welcomed the Bundestag decision, and said that this is an important signal from Berlin, ahead of the General Affairs Council on 14 October. The final decision will be made by Heads of EU States and Governments during the meeting of the European Council on October 17 and 18.

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