European Union lawmakers last week told visiting Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha they expected harder work on political reform and moves to stamp out human rights violations, organised crime and corruption. “Without fundamental root reforms in government and society, you will not get closer to the EU,” warned German Liberal MP Milan Horacek, adding: “There is a whole range of problems with human rights in Albania.”
Members of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee also told Berisha that Albania continues to be the European country with the worst environmental pollution. “Albania needs to demonstrate more tangible results in reforms before it can move to any further stage in European integration,” Euro MPs said in draft resolution. Berisha said Albania was working hard to meet all criteria and demands for EU membership.
“We have left behind the period of transition, and we are now on the road to unite with the European family,” he said.
The prime minister pledged “zero tolerance against corruption and organised crime,” adding that the government had brought a high number of criminals to court, and that the corruption rate in the government had fallen drastically. Tirana was also making progress in fighting police violence and arresting traffickers, Berisha told Euro MPs. However, with almost all trafficked children being of Roma origin, the trafficking of human beings remains a serious problem, he admitted.
Anti-trafficking committees in the municipalities have been set up to monitor high-risk families, Berisha said. Tirana was also trying to integrate the Roma minority by building schools and houses and creating jobs, he told Euro MPs.
“Albania today is among the safest and securest countries in the region,” Berisha said, adding: “The Balkans have changed from a region of wars … into a region of freedom, friendship and co-operation.”
Tirana and the EU recently signed a deal aimed at building closer ties. The stabilisation and association agreement is the first step on the western Balkan state’s path to EU membership. The EU also clinched a trade deal with Tirana.