Albanian delegation learns how Croatia met EU standards in rule of law
A high-level Albanian delegation led by Deputy Minister of Justice Idlir Peci visited Zagreb on 27- 28 March 2014 to learn about Croatia’s experience in meeting the requirements for European Union membership in the area of the rule of law. The main focus of this two-day visit was on Chapter 23 of the EU acquis communautaire, covering the Judiciary and Fundamental Rights. The delegation included two other participants, the Director of the Department for EU Integration in the Ministry of Justice, Tetis Lubonja, and the Director of the School of Magistrates, Marjana Semini.
The visit was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) offices in Albania and Croatia in partnership with the Centre of Excellence of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. The meeting is part of a broader UNDP programme which aims to share Croatia’s EU accession experience with other countries in the region facing similar challenges.
Albania presented its application for EU membership in April 2009 and is waiting for approval of its status as a candidate country this year. The exchange of experience between the delegations proved to be beneficial especially taking into account that Albania’s EU Integration Roadmap sets out five key reform priorities: judiciary, corruption, human rights, public administration and organized crime, which were also major challenges for Croatia during its accession.
“Croatia strongly supports the EU integration process in all the countries in Southeast Europe, including Albania,” said Željko Kuprešak, Assistant Minister of Foreign and European Affairs and Director of the Directorate for Regional Cooperation, stressing that the achievement of European standards is a solution for progress across the region.
During the meeting in the Ministry of Justice, the Assistant Minister of Justice and Director of the Directorate for the EU and International Cooperation, Ivan Crnčec, gave the delegation an overview of Croatian negotiations with regard to Chapter 23, including the main highlights of the Croatian reform of the judiciary related to the backlog of unresolved cases, the efficiency and independence of the judiciary, rationalization of the court network, and tackling corruption and organized crime. The Albanian Deputy Minister of Justice and the Croatian Assistant Minister of Justice alluded to the possibility of additional exchange of experience between the two ministries.
The last day of the visit was dedicated to meetings with the former Croatian Minister of Justice, Dražen Bošnjaković, who both opened and closed the Croatian negotiations on what proved to be the most demanding EU acquis chapter for the country – Chapter 23 – and with the former Croatian negotiator for this chapter and Chapter 24 on Justice, Freedom, and Security, Kristian Turkalj.
The UNDP Regional Advisors Facility supports the efforts of the Western Balkans in their EU accession process in different areas of the EU acquis, including Chapters 23 and 24, Chapter 11 on Agriculture and Rural Development and Chapter 22 on Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments. Moreover, through an extensive network of experts, the UNDP facility responds to country requests related to all EU acquis areas.