Following their visit to Tirana from 29 June to 1 July 2022, the co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Albania, Joseph O’Reilly (Ireland, EPP/CD) and Asim Mollazada (Azerbaijan, EC/DA), welcomed the marked progress in the reform of the judiciary and fight against corruption, but highlighted the need for consistent implementation in order to produce the tangible results expected by Albanian society.
The co-rapporteurs particularly welcomed the recent extension of the mandate of the bodies for the vetting of Albania’s judiciary, as the high number of dismissals resulting from the vetting underscore the continuing need for this procedure. They also welcomed that the special bodies to fight corruption and organised crime are now fully established and functional, which the rapporteurs hope will now result in a marked increase of indictments and convictions for - especially high level - corruption. “The fact that Albania still scores very low in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index and even went down in ranking in 2021, underscores the tenacity of corruption in Albania and the need for all stakeholders to step up their efforts in fighting this menace for the functioning of Albania’s democratic institutions”, the co-rapporteurs emphasised.
Despite continuing progress with regard to the functioning of democratic institutions, the media environment remains a source of concern for the rapporteurs. While welcoming the assurances from the ruling majority that it no longer intends to pursue the controversial defamation package, they called for these amendments to the media law to now formally be removed from the agenda of the parliament as they continue to be hanging as a ‘Sword of Damocles’ over the media environment. At the same time, they urged Albanian media outlets to establish a proper system of self-regulatory mechanisms to strengthen ethical reporting.
The co-rapporteurs welcomed that, since their last visit, the opposition had fully returned to parliament. However, they expressed concern about the tribulations inside the main opposition party and the risk that this could spill over into the national political environment, which could undermine the pluralist functioning of the country’s democratic institutions. “All democracies need a well-functioning opposition to ensure a proper system of checks and balances. We therefore urge the Democratic Party to overcome its internal differences and to play its important role in the governance of the country. All sides should be involved in this,“ they stressed.
Lastly the rapporteurs paid tribute to Albania’s multi-cultural and denominational society as well as the dominance of women in Albania’s cabinet which underscores the prominent role women play in the country’s political life.