Comment: Integration or isolation with the EU? – Go out

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Western European countries have complained about length of stay overruns and other offenses committed by Albanian nationals and are calling for the suspension of visa liberalization. Which means that Albania’s biggest and most tangible achievement of this decade, visa-free travel to Europe, is in serious jeopardy.

1- The more things change with Brussels

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Albania and other countries in the Western Balkans. Its main political message was that the future of our countries lies within the European Union. Regarding Tirana and Skopje, she said she was personally determined that the EU Intergovernmental Conference for the opening of accession negotiations be convened as soon as possible, preferably during this year.

The Commission President promised that the way to this common future will be mapped out at the Brdo summit, where EU leaders will meet with their peers from the Balkans.

Along with the statements, Reuters reported that EU member states had not agreed to guarantee Western Balkan countries the prospect of joining the Brdo summit.

The two-page summit invitation letter, signed by European Council President Charles Michel, informs in its final paragraphs that on the second day, October 6, they will talk about the Balkans, the need for stability in the region, its development. socio-economic post-pandemic, strategic cooperation, etc. But no word on the enlargement of the EU, nor on the future membership of our countries. At the same time, for the Slovenian Prime Minister Janša (Slovenia currently holds the six-monthly presidency of the Union), the enlargement of the EU to the Balkans was the first and the only objective of this summit initiated by him.

Ultimately, the word enlargement became the summit declaration.

The Albanian public, unfamiliar with the institutional architecture and decision-making powers within the EU, has for several years observed a confusion in the attitude of European politicians. But even the Albanian government, supposedly knowledgeable about these things, looked silly when in June 2018 it just celebrated the opening of negotiations with champagne and handing out medals to its own officials.

For years we have seen from the European Commission, part of the European Parliament and part of the Member States a positive, but essentially sumptuous and embellished assessment of the criteria of democracy and the state of law. The rest is more objective in the evaluation and more rigorous in the attitude.

And for years, I have argued that an objective assessment and a rigorous but correct and fair attitude would further help a European Albania (and the European Balkans) when it comes to the Copenhagen criteria: freedom, rule of law, democracy and human rights. . The lavish approach easily turns to propaganda, the problems remain unresolved and certainly reappear later, even more aggravated (as happened with post-Milosevic Serbia, which has mostly regressed during these seven years of negotiations. with Brussels or even with some EU Member States).

All of these issues will continue to be discussed in the months and years to come, whether or not the Intergovernmental Conference succeeds in being held before Christmas. Which is still desirable.

2- The risk of the unbridled emigration of Albanians

Apart from the reluctance of EU members to ensure enlargement in the Balkans, another piece of news drew attention: a good number of Member States, including those traditionally in favor of enlargement, had withdrawn. worried about abuses of the free movement of citizens of the Balkans. According to Germany’s reports to European authorities, the problem (on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being very bad and 10 being the least bad) was Albania and Serbia ranked 2 and 7 respectively.

Other Western European countries have also complained about length of stay overruns and other offenses committed by Albanian nationals and are calling for the suspension of visa liberalization. When the Netherlands in April 2019 demanded exactly that for Albania, it was rejected because it was the only voice. This is now demanded by a considerable number of Member States; which means that Albania’s most important and tangible European achievement over the past decade, namely visa-free travel to Europe, is in serious jeopardy.

In 2014, four years after visa liberalization, the wave of massive emigration from Albania to Germany, France, began.

At that time, the then Interior Minister (and currently accused of drug trafficking) Saimir Tahiri and Prime Minister Edi Rama “explained” to us in Parliament that they were the Albanian emigrants who had been living in Greece for years. , who, after the financial crisis there, began this second exile.

Rama never apologized for this sordid lie. But later, he justified emigration from Albania as an overwhelming social need; even in the face of reprimands from Europeans. This continued so even when the number of Albanian emigrants exceeded were the absolute and relative values ​​of all other European countries, from the Baltic States to Bulgaria. In fact, the EU only approved the removal of visas on the basis of ensuring that there would be no avalanche of migrants, while legally meeting the needs of the labor market.

It is likely that Rama’s government does not have the will to create hope for a good future in the homeland through good governance. Maybe the government doesn’t care that society is losing professionals and the middle class. He may have even calculated his electoral advantage. But maybe the Albanians also need a good shake up to respond to the devastating bleeding.

3- … and Bangladeshis

The visit of Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer to Tirana, together with Mrs Von der Leyen, was seen as routine. It was about cooperation in the fight against crime and illegal immigration, especially from the Middle East and Central Asia.

But the Austrian media revealed another interesting detail: the problem in Albania is that masses of people from these regions enter Albania legally because they do not need a visa. And then, according to Austrian police investigating their cell phone data, they reappear illegally in Austria. And some of them raise concerns about public safety, crime and terrorism. Two years ago, Rama said he would solve the country’s labor shortage with hard-working “Bangladeshis”.

Meanwhile, there is local evidence that the Arabs or Asians who legally set foot here and were initially employed disappeared after a few months; most likely because they were heading to rich Europe. Perhaps Rama had him influenced by the globalist ideas of his mentor in New York, who is fighting for a world without borders and migration without obstacles; maybe Rama was invested in a real scheme of human trafficking with “businessmen” around him ready to make some quick money.

In any case, it is a failure of the initiative of the “Bangladeshi workers”. And one more problem that Europe receives from our government. As well as a risk that the Albanians will start to queue for visas as the Kosovar Albanians are currently doing. The latter for those who have forgotten what it was before 2010.

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