The article by Ambassador Trako, published at the Diplomatica Magazine


Albania´s optimistic road towards integration in the European Union.
Time ago, maybe at the beginning of the existence of the new Albanian state (after the independence day in 1912) or even sometime later, when an Albanian had to travel abroad or taking for example, a boat towards the West, he used to say "I am going to Europe", like if Albania was not in Europe. This expression was also used in Greece time ago. The formation of an Albanian national consciousness dates to the later 19th century and is part of the larger phenomenon of the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire. Historically speaking, for many centuries, Europe became so stranger to the Balkans Peninsula, that it seemed a tectonic rift had taken place. In fact, the Balkans Peninsula did not move anywhere; so much less Europe.  
However, the internal mental and spiritual distance was such that led to the creation of the paradox we just mentioned about that Albanian traveler. As if the old distance was not enough, communism created a new removal for Albania in the 20th century. Europe became “imperialistic”, a prohibited land, twice distant, multiply hostile. We now use most naturally the expression return to Europe, as if talking of a reverse journey toward the continent we left behind and that is waiting for us. Albania belongs to Europe, not only geographically, but as a living entity on many aspects.  
Therefore when talking about integration and return to Europe, there is no doubt that this reversed process shall take place exactly where the evil happened. In other words, right where we were and still are. In this aspect, Europe represent for Albania, the only natural state. On the other hand, in this context, a key question is raised: how far away is Albania from the European Family, from the European Union member states?  
The European Union (EU) plays a major role in promoting economic development and stability for the member states and it is the final goal for the other developing non-member states, like Albania. However, the journey to reach the destination is not quite simple.
Albania’s integration into the EU has to be understood as a process, evolving step-by-step. Each step has to be implemented properly. Progress achieved on the first step will enable the country to better perform in fulfilling the requirements of the second step and so on. In the course of the process, Albania will have to implement fundamental and far-reaching reforms. This would enable the country to fully participate in European integration, including rights and obligations. Such reforms are not only required by the European Union, but urgently needed for Albania as well. Reforms will enhance trust in the Albanian economy and the political system.
Albania has been a potential candidate for accession to the European Union since January 2003 and it formally applied for EU membership on 28 April 2009. Albania is a member of the UN, NATO, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Council of Europe, World Trade Organization, and is one of the founding members of the Union for the Mediterranean. 
After Prime Minister Edi Rama took office, the new coalition government (Socialist Party & Socialist Movement for Integration) is on the way forward with the aim to accelerate the accession process of Albania and the necessary reforms. In this context, the Albanian Parliament, headed by Mr. Ilir Meta (ex-Prime Minister and ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs) voted by consensus on a "package of integration," a month ahead of the election. The EU emphasized that a positive assessment of the election was critical for progress on Albania's EU accession path. Last week, a report on the election by the Office for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights also noted the positive electoral progress in Albania. 
In a joint statement, EU commissioners Catherine Ashton and Stefan Fule said, “the electoral process was fair and the new government should begin to work on Albania's EU integration. The Albanian government has fulfilled the obligations and the European Commission has appreciated the technical criteria. We are optimistic that Albania has met all obligations to obtain EU candidate status”.
That’s why, the European Commission in its last report (October 2013) recognizes Albania's progress in its efforts to meet the European integration reforms and suggested granting official EU candidate status to Albania.
However, Albania needs to take to move further on its path towards EU integration, by reaching out to all the stakeholders – inside the country, in the region and also to the member States. The Albanian membership in the EU is so much desired by the entire Albanian society. But, what can be done to accomplish this dream?
First, it is significantly important to insure the independence, transparency and efficiency of judicial institutions. 
Second, considerable efforts are needed to establish an independent, effective, impartial and merit-based civil service. 
Third, clarifying the legal framework on minority protection is another important task that must be satisfied. 
Finally, strengthening regional collaboration in combating organized crime and drug trafficking, and deepening economic cooperation with neighbors will be another real route to national, as well as regional stability and growth. 
Now the question is on how can these goals be accomplished? The key to success is building the political will to support institutional development and to protect the public’s interest instead of the interest of the politicians.

Postal Address

Embasy of Albania
Rua Joaquim Antonio Aguiar, Nr. 64, piso 4-D
Codigo Postal 1070 -153,

Tel / Fax

Tel: 00 351 21 38 63 600 / 601 / 602 Fax: 00 351 21 38 78 586



Monday to Friday
09:00 - 17:00