Macedonia submitted an application for EU membership in March 2004. Almost a decade later it has still not opened EU accession talks. Albania submitted its application in April 2009. More than four years later it is not even an official candidate. Then there is Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter: Bosnia). Bosnia has already broken every record when it comes to its Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU. It started negotiations in November 2005. Eight years later, the agreement has not yet entered into force. No other Balkan country has taken so long. Bosnia has also not yet submitted an application for EU accession. If the experience of Albania and Macedonia is anything to go by, it might not start accession talks for another decade.
In December 2009 the European Court of Human Rights found – in its judgement in the case Sejdic and Finci vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina – that the constitution and election law of Bosnia and Herzegovina violate the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols. Bosnia’s laws require that political candidates identify themselves as “Bosniak”, “Croat” or “Serb” in order to be able to run for president or become a member of the upper house of the state parliament. Behind the international interest in this case lies a strong sense of moral outrage. How can a country in today’s Europe prevent a Roma or a Jew from running for head of state? Is this not a racist constitution?
Turkish tourists and European justice. The Demirkan ruling and how Turkey can obtain visa-free travel
On 24 September 2013 many eyes across the EU and Turkey turned to Luxembourg. There, at just after nine-thirty in the morning, the Court of Justice of the European Union (or European Court of Justice, ECJ) delivered a judgement in one of its most important cases this year. The issue at stake was visa-free access to EU countries for Turkish citizens.
On 24 September 2013 at just after nine-thirty in the morning the Court of Justice of the European Union (or European Court of Justice, ECJ) will deliver a judgement in one of the most important cases it will decide this year. The outcome will affect millions of Turkish citizens. It could also have a profound impact on the future of the Schengen visa system.
Vize serbestleşmesi, AB’nin Romanya, Bulgaristan, Sırbistan ve Arnavutluk ile olan ilişkilerinde büyük öneme sahip bir unsur oldu. Ancak yakın bir zaman öncesine kadar Brüksel ile Ankara arasındaki görüşme gündeminde bu konu yer almadı. Sonra, 21 Haziran 2012’de AB Konseyi, Komisyon’a Türkiye ile vize serbestleşmesi hedefli bir diyalog başlatması için çağrı yaptı. AB Konseyi’nin sonuç bildirgesinin üzerinden yaklaşık bir yıl geçti. Vize serbestleşmesi diyaloğu hâlâ başlamadı.
Visa liberalisation has been a crucial element in the EU’s relations with Romania, Serbia and Albania. Yet until recently it had not even appeared on the agenda of talks between Brussels and Ankara. Then on 21 June 2012, the Council invited the Commission to establish a dialogue with Turkey aimed at visa liberalisation. Almost a year has passed since these Council conclusions. The dialogue on visa liberalisation has yet to begin.
There has always been a risk that Albanian parliamentary elections on 23 June 2013 will fall short of international standards. This would likely precipitate a major political crisis in Albania. Another result would be the loss of any credible prospect of progress towards European integration in the foreseeable future and a spiral of political, social and economic decline in Albania. To counter this risk, ESI argues that the international community must take a strong and uncompromising stand on the democratic principles that must be observed. It must take a non-partisan approach of strong support to the rule of law. As Albania prepares for parliamentary elections on 23 June 2013 this paper draws attention to recent violations of democratic principles in Albania that provide the international community, and in particular the European Union, with an opportunity to make a crucial point of principle at a crucial moment in what is set to be a very right and heated electoral contest.
Ka ekzistuar gjithmonë një rrezik që zgjedhjet parlamentare të 23 qershorit 2013 në Shqipëri të mos i përmbushin standardet ndërkombëtare. Kjo ka gjasa të sjellë një krizë të madhe politike në Shqipëri. Pasojë tjetër e zgjedhjeve jo të mira do të jetë humbja e çfarëdo perspektive për progres drejt integrimeve europiane në të ardhmen e afërt, si dhe hyrja e Shqipërisë në një spiralë të përkeqësimit politik, social dhe ekonomik. ESI argumenton se për t’iu kundërvënë këtij rreziku, komuniteti ndërkombëtar duhet të ketë qëndrim të qartë dhe nuk duhet të bëjë kompromis sa i përket mbrojtjes së parimeve demokratike që duhet respektuar medoemos. Qëndrimi i saj duhet të jetë jopartiak dhe duhet të përkrahë fuqimisht sundimin e ligjit. Në këtë dokument vihen në spikamë shkeljet e fundit të parimeve demokratike, teksa Shqipëria po përgatitet për zgjedhjet parlamentare të 23 qershorit 2013. Ky evidentim i shkeljeve i jep mundësinë komunitetit ndërkombëtar, në veçanti Bashkimit Europian, që të shfaqë qëndrimet e veta në një moment kyç të kësaj gare elektorale që duket se do të jetë shumë e ngushtë dhe e “nxehtë”.
On 23 January 2013 a record 224 members of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) participated in a debate on Azerbaijan. There have never been more members voting on any resolution in the history of PACE. The vote was also historic because of its outcome: PACE rapporteur Christoph Straesser's resolution on political prisoners in Azerbaijan was defeated – 125 votes against 79 votes, with 20 abstentions – sending a very strong signal of support to the authoritarian regime in Baku. This debate is likely to be remembered for many years, and certain to stand as a reminder of just how successfully Azerbaijan has been able to capture and manipulate PACE.
It was the most dramatic vote in the history of the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) of the Council of Europe: a vote on the definition of "political prisoner" and whether or not PACE had the responsibility to monitor the state of fundamental rights in member states. To understand just how much was at stake on 3 October 2012 in PACE, it is important to understand what led to this vote. The debate on the definition of political prisoners turned into a debate about the very legitimacy of any assessment of fundamental rights and freedoms in PACE. The debate that took place on 3 October was one of PACE's most contentious. It was one of the most well-attended debates in the organization's history. It was also the one with the closest ever result at the end of the debate.