German Elections vs. Albania
By Genc Mlloja
Albanian Daily News
Published September 26, 2017
There are no uncertainties among Albanian politicians, economists and analysts concerning the continuation of the key role of Germany in supporting the Western Balkan and Albania in the European integration process, and the economic initiatives launched by Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Berlin Conference in 2014 after the result of the federal elections which have given her a fourth mandate.
Although the 'story' will not end in her victory, which has been considered a 'bittersweet' because of the drop of seats in the future Bundestag of CDU/CSU, but will continue in the process of the formation of the new government, in which smaller parties will play key roles, Albanians believe that Germany is a consolidated state which does not touch the main guidelines of its politics.
"Germany is a genuine and true strategic partner of Albania and it is good that this status should be articulated clearly and officially by Tirana," said Paskal Milo, a former foreign minister.
In the meantime, Gjergj Buxhuku of AlbKonfindustria thinks that the important inclusion of Germany in the process of the reform in judiciary shows clearly its long- term interest in Albania and Albanians, an interest that cannot be affected by the changes of governments even if that was the case.
But, according to Zef Preci, a well- known economic researcher, due to the election results there will be a focus on German domestic issues in the future, which is a reminder for the Western Balkan countries to quicken their steps along the integration process through building functional democracies because the strengthening of the extremist forces warns of a more problematic future for the European integration.
Former Foreign Minister
The elections in Germany did not bring about surprises to put in doubt the fundamental orientations of that country. There will be continuity, but probably with corrections dictated by the new eventual partners in the CDU-CSU coalition.
The new mandate gives Chancellor Merkel confidence and trust to continue the German engagement in the Western Balkans through her personal initiative which is well-known as the Berlin Process.
In the meantime, Germany will continue to be both supporter and observer for the European integration of the Western Balkans. My opinion is that almost all the governments of this region have welcomed the re- election of Ms. Merkel regardless of the political colors. This is due to her strong personality and because of the confidence that she has created for the determination and correctness through which she presents and invests herself for the German foreign policy but also the European one in the Balkans.
As far as Albania is concerned Merkel's victory has been seen as a personal victory rather than of her party. Ms. Merkel has testified that with regard to Albanian politics she is both realistic and supportive when the democratic and European principles are respected, and is also similarly critical when there are violations of these principles and of the trustfulness of the German partnership.
Germany is a genuine and true strategic partner of Albania and it is good that this status should be articulated clearly and officially by Tirana. The Albanian- German relations have a solid foundation to become better than they are now. And first and foremost this depends on what and how things are handled in Tirana.
General Director of AlbKonfindustria
The elections in Germany have been expected with special interest not only for the region, Europe but also for the entire world. And they were especially very important for Albania, Kosovo and everywhere where Albanians live.
I have the conviction that irrespective of the fact that which political force won in the 2017 federal elections there would be no significant change to the strategy of the German politics towards Albania and Albanian 'world'.
The above mentioned conviction derives from the fact that Germany is a consolidated state which does not touch the main guidelines of its politics. The more so when it is the question of Albania and the region where geo-strategic interests are intertwined with clear economic interests and close historic alliances.
The long- term interests of Germany in the Albanian 'world' are clearly evident if the sectoral map is analyzed where German investments and aid are focused. Just to mention some these are the strategic sectors of water supply, energy, transmitting networks, the processing plants for water sewage and solid waste, ports, airports, professional education etc.
Having said the above they overpass the short- term interest of the profit of an ordinary business. The interests span in time and cover all the foundations of the real economy.
Also, the important inclusion of Germany in the process of the reform in judiciary shows clearly its long- term interest in Albania and Albanians, an interest that cannot be affected by the changes of governments even if that was the case. Of course the consecutive win of Chancellor Merkel is good news in the sense that logically there will be no lost time for the implementation of the ongoing politics and programs as it could have happened if there were other winners.
Head of Albanian Center for Economic Research
I think that the election results in Germany should be seen with optimism for keeping alive the European dream for the Western Balkans, continuity and consistence of the relations of Albania with Germany.
Evaluating the weakening of the position of Ms. Merkel and the decision of SDP to stay out of the coalition, I think that it will not be an easy mandate for the Chancellor because of the greater shifting of the focus on the domestic issues as the economic growth, the emigration issue, anti- terrorism etc.
This means that the Western Balkan countries should quicken their steps along the integration process through building functional democracies because the strengthening of the extremist forces warns of a more problematic future for the European integration.
Political Analyst and Researcher
I think that after the last federal parliamentary elections in Germany, the stance and orientation of Berlin towards the integration politics on the Western Balkans will not waver. A guarantee for this is the presence of the formulator and the most powerful supporter to the integration initiatives for the Balkan region, that is, Ms. Angela Merkel.
It is very true that she was forced to face a dropping result in elections of her party, CDU, and the growth, for the first time, of a factor almost forgotten on the German parliamentary and political scene since many decades as it is the case of the Alternative for Germany (AfD), which is considered as a radical political group of the right- wing.
But as a matter of fact AfD is an amalgam of groupings including Neo-Nazi elements and former supporters of CDU and other parties, who felt frustrated and probably disappointed by the immigrant's politics of Chancellor Merkel and the great coalition CDU-CSU+ SPD.
Some weeks and probably months will be needed until an opportune governing formula is found, while one thing is almost certain, that SPD has ruled out any further coalition with the Christian Democrat and Christian Social unionists.
However, even if a very 'colorful' coalition is created (so called Jamaica) between CDU-CSU + the Greens + the Liberals or even the one between CDU-CSU with any of above mentioned political forces, the guarantee for the continuation of the implementation of the integration package of Berlin for the Western Balkans is still stable and in this context I believe that Albanians have why to rejoice over.
A good news seen from another angle is that although for the first time a party from the right-wing of the CDU succeeds to get an 'impressive' presence in Bundestag (AfD succeeded to get more than 13 percent at federal level, which means more than 80 deputies in the Federal Parliament, and in many zones of former Eastern Germany it has achieved to arrive at the level of 40 percent), paradoxically this strengthens the cooperation capacities of the democratic and progressive parliamentary forces like those of the center or left German parties.
All of them are oriented against the objectives of AfD whose growth would bring about a diminishing of the opportunities of the Western Balkans for a clear Euro-Atlantic perspective, and it would even put in question the EU Club.
There is a decrease of the German interest for Albania. Firstly, this is due to the fact that the political force of Ms. Merkel is closer to the Albanian opposition and even it helps it intensively to come to power and secondly, she has lost the confidence in the current governing of Mr. Rama.
On the other hand, it is seen a rising interest during the last years towards Serbia because Serb President Aleksandar Vucic is considered more rational and in addition the weight of Serbia in the region is greater.
When the Russian argument is added to this, Germany needs this country as a support for not troubling its politics by that superpower. Likewise Albania is showing that irrespective of the promises and the noise it is far from that integration process which was launched by Ms. Merkel in the Berlin Conference which continued in Vienna, Paris and Trieste. However Ms. Merkel should close successfully this mandate and on the other hand, she should think of her successor so that she is not erased from the history of the party in Germany.