John Kerry Pushes for Albanian Judicial Reform

During a brief visit to Tirana, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged both government and opposition to back a judicial reform initiative intended to boost the fight against corruption in Albania.

Kerry met Prime Minister Edi Rama during his three-hour visit to Tirana on Sunday, emphasising the need for Albania to enact the judicial reform package that is currently under discussion in order to boost the fight against corruption.

“I am encouraged, very much so, by the judicial reform package that is now being considered in order to improve the judiciary and allow for a greater crackdown on corruption,” Kerry said. He acknowledged that the fight against corruption was a tough one but said it was a necessary step for the future of Albania in Europe. “As hard as it is, I am convinced that the prime minister and the government are committed to a track that will guarantee that Albania’s future is one that will take it to a full partnership with Europe and the rest of the world and to prosperity and better opportunity for all the people of Albania,” he said.

Kerry also emphasised the need to uphold the rule of law, saying that Albania could be a prosperous country if law was applied to everyone in the same way, “no matter what political party is in power and no matter who belongs to what party, no matter what your politics are”. Kerry repeated the same messages to the opposition chief, the head of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha.

Rama responded by promising that he would quickly move forward with the judiciary reform and other efforts against corruption. “Our common goal… is for March to be the month in which the assembly will pass the constitutional amendment package,” Rama said. Basha also confirmed the opposition will back the required reforms. “We are going to work together for a reform that is going to last more than the life of this majority and every other majority in the future,” he said.

Kerry’s visit to Tirana also marked the 25th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Albania and the US.

Balkans Insight 

15 February 2016