La bandiera europea

In Albania si sente forte la pulsione verso l'Unione Europea. Ma non è certo ancora chiaro nel Paese come arrivare all'integrazione e che conseguenze quest'ultima implica.

11/10/2002 -  Llazar Semini Tirana

Sono stati da poco indicati i Paesi dell'UE che nei prossimi anni entreranno a far parte dell'Unione. Salvo la Slovenia i Balcani sono ancora fuori. Anche l'Albania. Un testo in inglese dal nostro corrispondente da Tirana Lazar Semini.

The change of the political climate in the country following a strong pressure from the international community show some good signs towards its integration into the European Union process.
The European Union has already given its first signals that negotiations on the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Albania are very likely to start within the Danish presidency, that is, until the end of this year.
But the recent signals from Brussels showed that what Albania has done until now need to be followed by many other things.

First of all the country's ever-squabbling politics seems to be at a détente at the moment. Last June leaders of the two main political parties, Fatos Nano of the ruling Socialists and Sali Berisha of the opposition Democrats, decided to take the country ahead in history together. They understood without the domestic reconciliation and a fair political fight they could hardly ask for the European integration.
Their compromise resulted the first ever-consensual president in post-communist Albania.
Moreover that was one of the first priorities the European Parliament told the Albanian politicians in January. The EU parliamentarian Doris Pack, long a harsh critiser of the country's politics, was the first to express her pleasure and even to attack some of her colleagues asking for a further period of probation.
The next thing Albania did after electing the president was totally reshuffle the government. The ruling Socialists changed its statute and elected their party leader as the prime minister. Fatos Nano seems also to be calm the opposition is not going to repeat its long-time appeal for fresh elections. He has made it quite clear many times for his '35-month'long governing.
Nano started his governing late July. The first thing to do, fully supported by the new president, was to take away from the post Fatos Klosi, head of the secret police, something the opposition had long asked for. Meanwhile a parliamentary commission is checking Klosi's activity.
The next very important activity launched by the new premier was the fight against trafficking. Albania has been long considered as a country of origin and a transit point for the human and drug traffic. Within days the whole government institutions were mobilized and blocked the traffic of the speedboats taking people and drugs in two-three hours across the Adriatic Sea to Italy. Moreover he said that the fight would not be limited only to the sea but in the whole structure and network on land as well. Many people were arrested, hotels and motels checked, fuel stations assisting traffic closed, repair and maintenance small manufacturing factories closed.
Albanians could hardly believe after more than 11 years of transition what Nano government was doing was real. That was clearly reflected in the analyses of the main columnists in the daily newspapers. They all hailed Nano's efforts and results but doubted. Some newspapers questioned marked Nano's recent show of burning some speedboats at the Sazan Island.
No doubt Nano knew that was a show with double purposes, first to tell Albanians he was making something and was a reliable premier, and then to tell the traffickers this time was serious. He went on further and changed many senior government officials. He fired former police chief Bilbil Mema for lack of management of the anti-trafficking operation. He replaced head of taxation and customs with some new faces.
And on top of that three senior public order ministry officials, headed by the deputy minister Bujar Himci, were arrested for abuse of power and favouring a bidder at the passport tender.
The opposition has somewhat remained timid, not very much criticizing the government. Now they refer to the central bank governor and Tirana mayor, two of the Socialists' probably most successful officials in the last five years. The first is criticized for not stopping his deputy abuse with the tender of the printing of the new bank notes. The second is linked with a Tirana flood from its dam, despite his successful rehabilitations projects overall the capital, giving it a new look.
Moreover Nano has not been favoured by chance. Heavy rain by the end of September created an emergency situation all over the country, damaging a lot. Tirana government is finding it hard to cope with the after-effects.
In all this so-called successful effort from the new government there still seemed to lack something. Thus the EU decided not to include Albania's request for the start of the SAA negotiations in its meeting at the end of September. True that is not the final word because the EU Council of Ministers will convene on October 20 and it is hoped they will be in favour.
But Europe turned this time to nepotism in Albanian government structures. Not a bad idea in this country but still it seems more an increasing pressure to Tirana and Nano to tell them what they have done is good but more should be done in the future and this fight should be permanent.
That found a negative and angry reaction from the Albanians. Foreign minister Ilir Meta said everything was normal and there were some protocol problems. Moreover the opposition, who also head the parliamentary committee on Albania's integration with the Republican Fatmir Mediu expresses itself convinced negotiations will start.
But of course Albania has much more to do. Its economy and infrastructure in general, be that physical (roads, water and power supply and the like) and administrative, need a long road to get updated according to the western European standards.
And very few articles from the analysts have cleared to the Albanians what it would really mean beeing integrated in the European Union.

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