Balkans: Hail Albania!
25 November 2009
On 16 November the EU Council formally approved Albania’s application for accession to the Union. Guardian columnist Peter Preston argues in favour of an emerging country whose enthusiasm for the European project is a welcome antidote to eurosceptic cynicism.
Where on earth, would 88% of a nation's citizenry want to join us (and Herman Van Rompuy) in the world's least welcoming club? Steam straight past Brussels and head south. We're going to Albania, because it tells us something slightly shaming about ourselves. Albania? Economy up this year (by 2%) while most of the world slumped back. Political system on turbulent hold since a June general election so tight that the Socialist losers are still boycotting parliament, filling the streets of Tirana with protests last weekend. But it finally got formal permission to negotiate EU entry last week.
The final reward for years of effort may only be a couple of years away (with that 88% support driving on). When you hear Albania's president, Bamir Topi, outline his "vision", it lies at the end of the yellow brick road to Brussels. And when you visit Tirana after a few years away, there's a new airport, a new motorway into town, streets lined with shops, cafes on every corner, monster blocks of flats obliterating the skyline. Only the potholes remain the same. Read full article in the Guardian...