On 26 May, The Hague Institute for Global Justice hosted H.E. Mr. Edi Rama, Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania, as part of its ongoing Distinguished Speaker Series. Mr. Rama’s topic was entitled, “Western Balkans and the EU: The case of Albania’s Long Road to its European Destiny”
Mr. Rama, is an artist by training and used to be a professor of painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, a player of the national basketball team, and authored two books. “He is an artist who, you might say, took Tirana as his canvas”, it was pointed out in The New Yorker referring to Mr. Rama’s 11 internationally acclaimed years as a Mayor of Tirana, which underwent a spectacular development during his three terms in office, after having served as Minister of Culture from 1998 to 2000.
In 2005, Mr. Edi Rama was elected Chair of the Socialist Party of Albania. Following the landslide victory at the elections hold in June 2013 offering “Renaissance”, he was elected as new Prime Minister by the Albanian Parliament in September 2013, leading a 20-member coalition government of his Socialist Party and the Socialist Movement for Integration.
This event comes at a critical juncture for Albania’s European aspirations.
EU integration, leading to eventual membership, is the foreign policy priority for the country. Albania submitted the application for membership in April 2009, but for three consecutive years the European Commission did not recommend the granting of candidate status.
Following the adoption of legislation to improve the workings of the judiciary, parliament, public administration, as well as the holding of electoral elections generally in line with EU standards, the Commission made in October 2013 an unconditional recommendation for candidate status. The EU Foreign Ministers meeting in December 2013 largely endorsed the Commission’s recommendation, but decided to postpone the granting of candidate status until the June 2014 meeting of the European Council, seeking a longer track record regarding the implementation of anti-corruption and judicial reforms. A new report of the European Commission was released in June 2014, prior to the European Council meeting, covering the implementation of the aforesaid reforms.
The decision of the December 2013 Council to postpone the candidate status for Albania, spurred controversy over internal debates in some EU Member States with regard to fear of enlargement, prior to local and European elections to be held in May.
This perfectly-timed lecture of the Albanian Prime Minister H.E. Edi Rama, in the context of the forthcoming report of the European Commission and at a time when the candidate status for Albania is within reach, marked the launch of the Institute’s work on the Balkans region.
- Edi Rama
Prime Minister of Albania
Topic: “Western Balkans and the EU: The case of Albania’s Long Road to its European Destiny”
- Dr. Abiodun Williams, Opening remarks
President, The Hague Institute
- Nikola Dimitrov, Moderator
Distinguished Fellow, The Hague Institute