Albania on the Brink: Political Instability to Harm Its Chances to Join the EU

Written by | Wednesday, May 29th, 2019

As the EU is to decide whether to open membership negotiations with Albania, the country’s political developments threaten its chances of joining the bloc. The political opposition, which comes with weekly protests calling for a transitional government and early elections, and street violence, plans to boycott local elections at the end of June. The situation has alarmed Western diplomats, who warn the opposition leaders to reduce the violence if they want to see progress in the negotiations with the EU. “Violent demonstrations are damaging Albania’s democratic reform efforts and the country’s prospects for moving forward on the EU path,” the US embassy said in a statement.
After the fall of communism in 1991, Albania’s attempts to set up a democratic regime are challenged by political crises, corruption, and extreme partisanship. “Albania wants to open negotiations with the EU but its political class is unable to start by opening negotiations and dialogue among themselves,” said Lutfi Dervishi, an independent political analyst. In February, the opposition left the parliament and demanded the resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama, who has led the country since 2013.
The attempts to overthrow Rama are often urged by various unorthodox actions like hurdling eggs, splattering of ink or chanting: “Freedom or death! Democracy or death! I call on you to resist.” While the opposition cannot do anything against the government, the actions may be harmful toward Albania’s path to EU accession as member states are expected to take the situation into account, according to the EU ambassador in Tirana, Luigi Soreca. “All parties should now unite behind the objective of EU integration,” Mr. Soreca stressed.

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