OSCE Permanent Council No. 611
EU response to the Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Pavel Vacek
- The European Union welcomes the Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania, Ambassador Pavel Vacek, back to the Permanent Council and would like to thank him for his detailed and comprehensive report.
- The European Union is pleased to note that encouraging developments have taken place in Albania since Ambassador Vacek’s last appearance at the Permanent Council one year ago.
- During the reporting period the Government of Albania demonstrated political will and strong determination to accelerate the pace of domestic reforms, in line with the European Partnership, in order to successfully conclude negotiations and sign with the European Union a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA).
- Nevertheless, the European Union would like to express its concern about the recent political deadlock in the Assembly and underscore the urgent need to overcome the polarisation of the Albanian political scene. We consider that the ability of the Albanian political actors to reach consensus on issues of national interest will be a crucial test for the maturity of the country to overcome the uneasy legacy of the past and to succeed the overall reform process.
- As set out in the OSCE / ODIHR final report, although the 3 July 2005 elections were largely free and fair, there were numerous shortcomings, e.g. irregularities in the polling standards and the voters lists. In this context, the European Union urges the Government and all political parties to firmly pursue the electoral reform.
With this regard and referring to Albania’s European perspective and national priorities, the European Union calls on the Government of Albania to take full advantage of the assistance provided by the OSCE for ensuring that the next municipal elections anticipated in early 2007 meet international standards, in line with ODIHR recommendations in terms of further improvement of the voter lists and up-date of the civil registry and address system. The EU also calls on the government of Albania to make further efforts to complete the legal and administrative framework for the protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities and to provide an accurate statistical information concerning the size of these minorities.
- The European Union urges the government of Albania to implement the measures outlined in the European Partnership to tackle organised crime and corruption. Steps have been undertaken for the apprehension of well-known criminal gangs, for suppressing violations of the intellectual property rights and for the implementation of the National Anti-Trafficking Strategy. However, the European Union considers that further actions need to be pursued with more determination and consistency in order to reduce the record of criminality and corruption in Albania and thus not to be detrimental to the future relations with the European Union.
- The European Union welcomes the close cooperation of the Presence with other international partners on the ground. We consider it as a prerequisite for the Presence’s successful work in its principal mandated areas, thus avoiding overlapping and duplication. In this context, we would welcome further thoughts on how the Presence could optimise its added value in the areas highlighted by Ambassador Vacek.
- The European Union highly values the improved co-operation between the Presence and the Host country and looks forward to its continuation towards fulfilment of the Presence’s mandate. In this context, the European Union reiterates that the current Presence’s mandate remains a sound base for its work in Albania.
- The European Union takes note of the letter addressed by the Foreign Minister of Albania, Mr. Besnik Mustafaj on 5 May to the Chairman in Office and Foreign Minister of Belgium, Mr. Karel de Gucht and circulated to OSCE participating states regarding the decision of Albania to present its candidature for the OSCE Chairmanship 2012.
- The European Union expresses appreciation and thanks to Ambassador Vacek and his staff for their valuable work on the ground supporting the challenging reform process, in which Albania is currently engaged along its path towards Euro-Atlantic integration.
The Acceding Countries Bulgaria and Romania, the Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, EFTA country Island, a member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
*Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process