Inspired by the fall of Berlin wall, the public act of youth protesters against the regime was both civic and political. They opened the way to peaceful protests requesting an open society, free movement, free market economy and political pluralism.
“We want Albania to be like Europe” was one of the loudest requests heard on those days. It turned to be one of the strongest wishes followed in harmony by the people and the government of Albania. It is still one of the strongest beliefs that allow politicians to undertake certain steps towards European Integration.
On the 8th of December Albania started its way to democratic processes, reforms and change.
Albania as other countries from the region (except Slovenia and Croatia), was already in late 1990’s subjected to strict visa requirements to enter the EU countries.
The EU received increasing demands for visa liberalization from civil society, think tanks and governments. The EU countries on their side set very strong requirements to be fulfilled by the country in order to obtain visa liberalization.
In June 2003 during the Thessaloniki European Council, Albania along with other countries of the Western Balkans, was identified as a potential candidate for the EU membership, but only in 2009 the country submitted the formal application. In 2010 the Commission identified 12 key priorities to be met before opening the accession negotiation.
Tanja Fajon, a Slovenian politician, member of the European Parliament, was the Rapporteur for the visa liberalization process for Bosnia and Albania, working with governments and civil society in Tirana and Sarajevo to help them fulfill the visa roadmap criteria.
It was only a year after Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia entered the “White Shengen” list when the European Parliament approved in November 2010 visa liberalization for Bosnia and Albania, with 538 votes in favor and 47 against.
Only in February 2012 Albania adopted an action plan addressing the 12 key priorities identified in the European Commission opinion
In October 2012, the Commission recommended Albania as a country which can be granted EU candidate status, oblidged to complete the key measures in the areas of judicial and public administration reform and revision of the parliamentary rules of procedures.
Since June 2014 Albania has been accepted as a candidate country.
Many Albanians commemorate the 8th of December and are proud to be in the European boat. Europe it not a common destination anymore, we are Europe.