Statement by Commissioner Štefan Füle following the 5th meeting of the EU-Albania Association and Stabilisation Council
"Today's 5th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council was very good, very frank and forward looking. We acknowledged that the December 2012 Council conclusions provide the way for the country to progress on its EU integration path. Further progress however will depend on the capacity of the Albanian political parties to maintain a stable, sustainable and constructive political dialogue and to deliver solid reform results.
We have repeatedly stressed that conducting the parliamentary elections in June in line with European and international standards is essential for further progress towards the European Union. There is an urgent need for political parties to restore mutual trust and demonstrate their commitment to the rigorous and non-partisan functioning of Albania's democratic institutions. All political sides have a responsibility to ensure people's confidence in the electoral process. All political sides!
All political parties are responsible for guaranteeing the independence of the election administration bodies. This is essential for the credibility and the impartiality of their work and for the confidence in the fairness and integrity of the elections. We are concerned about recent developments as regards the composition of the Central Election Commission and its possible repercussions on the electoral process.
We will be monitoring the elections closely and in this context we welcome the recommendation of the OSCE/ODIHR to deploy an observation mission; we will be paying particular attention to its findings. We are confident all Albanian political parties will cooperate with the observation mission.
Tangible results on the rule of law also need to be delivered, notably in fighting corruption and organised crime, and in respecting human rights.
Albania can meet the various challenges discussed today and in particular the challenge of addressing the 12 key priorities of the Commission’s Opinion. We have full confidence in Albania's potential and capacity to fulfil the criteria for membership. It was indeed one of the issues addressed during the meeting and I can assure you that there are no doubts regarding Minister Majlinds Bregu's commitment but what we are looking forward is political commitment.
We will continue to follow Albania's progress closely and further assist the country in achieving its objective of moving ahead on European integration. But strong ownership and consistent implementation of reforms is needed on the part of Albania."