Dutch government publishes report on Albania, among focal points: Corruption, elections and SPAK

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Dutch government publishes report on Albania, focal points: corruption, elections and SPAK

The Government of Netherlands has published this evening its opinion regarding negotiations for Albania, which will go to the local Parliament and be put up for discussion on June 16th, before going before the officials of the European Union as the official stance of Netherlands.

In the preliminary evaluation of the Government of Netherlands, there are positive remarks regarding Albania making steps forward through the reforms that have been undertaken.

“The Dutch government is pleased that Albania has recently made progress with reforms on priority themes and in the fight against organized crime and corruption. However, the low number of convictions of high-level officials remains a concern,” is stated in the recommendation made by the Dutch government.

The government argues that based on its strict approach on EU’s enlargement, the first Intergovernmental Conference with Albania can happen as soon as the negotiating frame has been approved.

However, critical viewpoints are also part of the picture, especially regarding the elections of April 25th.

“The government considers it important that the electoral fraud cases are carefully investigated by SPAK. In addition, the existence and leaks of the database with sensitive personal information, which caused a lot of fuss just before the elections, will also have to be monitored. ODIHR’s final report on these elections has not yet been published. The government considers it important that any recommendations in this report will be followed in due course,” states the report.

“The government believes that the Albanian authorities should now give further substance to the investigation and prosecute the election commissioners and voters involved. Also, the new cases brought forward in the recent elections require prompt handling,” continues the report by the Dutch government.

Amongst the other topics cited in the evaluation are corruption and the conviction of high-officials.

“Special attention should will need to be paid to corruption at the highest level, including appropriate punishment, as it is clear that convictions in this area are still lagging behind,” states the multiple page report.

The Dutch government also mentions the vetting process, saying that a lot of progress has been made, while emphasizing that Albania has to limit the cash economy and regulate the system of registration for private property as well as find more appropriate sanction for money laundering and financing of terrorism.

The Netherlands sees the withdrawal of the new media law from parliament as something positive and recommended that for every future changes, the state should make sure to be in complete accordance with the recommendations set by international organizations and the Venice Commission.

“Rule of law reforms are far from complete and will therefore be central to the long process following the opening of accession negotiations with Albania. Institutions must be strengthened, politicians and citizens must become accustomed to the independence of the judiciary, the vetting of judges and prosecutors must be completed and all vacancies in the justice field must be filled. The track records are obviously not finished either. Progress has been made, but the ongoing fight against organized crime and corruption will require continued attention and international cooperation, including from partners such as the Netherlands,” ends the report.

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