At the end of a fact-finding visit to Tirana, the monitoring co-rapporteurs for Albania of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Jonathan Evans (United Kingdom, EC) and Andrej Hunko (Germany, UEL), have welcomed the clearly-expressed political determination of the main political forces to continue their mutual co-operation to fully implement the December 2014 agreement, which is of crucial importance for the political stability of the country.
The co-rapporteurs stressed that, while considering that fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression had been generally respected in the 21 June local elections, international observers still encountered serious shortcomings in the electoral process. “It is important that these shortcomings are properly and rapidly addressed in a spirit of co-operation between the political parties,” said the co-rapporteurs. At the same time, they emphasised that changes to the Election Code were not in themselves sufficient to resolve the recurrent shortcomings in the electoral process, but also that all political stakeholders needed to demonstrate the commensurate political will to put in place all of its provisions in good faith.
The co-rapporteurs noted the implementation of the recent territorial administrative reform, but stressed that this should now lead to the next phase, which was important for the effective and efficient democratic development of the country. “Now that the new territorial structure is in place, local authorities will need to be given both the clear and concrete powers and functions of self-government and the necessary means to implement them,” they maintained.
“We welcome the emphasis given by the government to the fight against corruption and organised crime, but still await concrete results in terms of prosecutions and convictions. It must be clearly demonstrated that there cannot be impunity for corruption at any level within government, the police, the judiciary or the prosecution service,” the co-rapporteurs said. In this respect, they highlighted the importance of reform of the judiciary and in particular of the prosecution service, whilst ensuring that the fundamental principle of the independence of the judiciary is respected. They emphasised that the reform process should proceed on an inclusive basis and called upon all political forces to fully participate in the work of the ad hoc parliamentary committee on judicial reform.
The rapporteurs will report on their visit to the Monitoring Committee at a forthcoming meeting in Strasbourg.