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Neither Fair, Nor Independent

The OSCE released a new report on the state of Albania's criminal justice system on Friday. The full report runs to nearly 250 pages, but the summary of the findings are hardly encouraging:
The Albanian justice system has undergone radical changes and a significant improvement during the past decade or so. The present analysis, however, indicates that there is a need for further improvement in order to create a stable and transparent justice system based on the rule of law. As will be seen in both the case studies chapter and in the other chapters in this report, the legal rules are frequently not respected or are abused in order to achieve “desired” – but not necessary lawful – results. As a consequence, the rights and freedoms of individuals are frequently violated, and an impression of a justice system that is neither fair, nor independent, is created.
I think this comes under the category of 'damned with faint praise'.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that a forthcoming report by the European Commission will suggest that the countries of the Western Balkans should not expect to join the EU any time soon. The slow pace of reform and 'enlargement fatigue' among existing members mean that accession is many years away. According the the BBC the Commission is advising the EU not to set target dates for potential new members.

Once the report is published I will try to post a link to it.


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Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

So if you are curious about Albania or if you are planning to visit I hope this blog will be of value.


And now the end is near
and so i face nanananana...

Never did like that crappy song.

But it's true nevertheless.

Tomorrow in the wee hours of the morning we will be heading for the airport for the last time. I suppose it was too much to expect that I could have kept this going while getting ready to leave. So apologies for the lack of postings over the last weeks. This is post number 380 something so I suppose one post every two days is not a bad average.

There were probably 380 more in my head or scribbled down on scraps of paper, but many of them are perhaps best left there.

I suppose I should be penning - or typing - my final thoughts and reflections on two years in Tirana, but right now I don't have any. Maybe in a month or two though I might come back with something.

Thanks to all of you who have read this blog - especially those of you who have become regulars. Thanks also for linking and thanks to all who left comments.

As for the other stars of the blog, Bella now has her own …

50 Ways to Make Some Money

The death of communism in Albania brought a flourishing market economy to life just as it did across Central Europe and Russia. On the streets of Tirana people are buying and selling, trading goods and services in predictable, or sometimes novel, ways. The shops are the most obvious expression of this. The streets are lined with little stores selling almost everything you could want. Freed from the choking grip of state bureaucracy Albanians are now at liberty to buy whatever they can afford. No matter how absurd the demand, someone will create the supply. Hence the preponderance of shoe stores in this city of muddy streets and torn up footpaths. Especially outlandish is the fashion for high heeled white boots - about as impractical a style of footware as could be imagined. Dotted across the city are the market stalls, sometimes just one person selling bananas, elsewhere a whole street lined with sellers of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, fish and spices. Those who cannot bring thei…