On 5th October, Monday, the Albanian Parliament approved electoral reforms. The house of 140 seats passed them with 97-15 majority, these changes are designed to prevent vote manipulation. After the accession of North Macedonia, these changes were the pre-conditions for Albania to start negotiations to join the European Union.
These electoral reforms will be applicable from April 25 next year, when the Parliamentary Elections are scheduled to take place. Apart from selecting new officials at the country’s top Election Commission, it mandates a threshold of one per cent for political parties to enter the parliament. Although these changes were vehemently opposed by the opposition, their passage with an absolute majority eases the inclusion of Albania into the European Union.
The vote by Albanian Parliament signals a move away from Xi Jinping’s China. Adding to the bad news for China, it has big geopolitical and economic ramifications. Joining the European Union means toeing the general line of arguments of Europe.
The Albania-China relations go far back, right to the Mao era. It was then that the societies of China and Albania were close, however, there was an ideological split ending the honeymoon years of Mao & Hoxha governments in 1977. The geopolitical importance of Albania is signified by the point that it lies in the European periphery forming a land bridge between Europe and Asia.
Its strategic location had led the Chinese Communist Party to resume its relationship with Albania. It is a major partner in the ambitious Chinese Belt & Road Initiative for the connection between Asia and Europe. China’s ambassador to Albania had called Sino-Albanian relations as “traditional friendship bearing new fruits”.
The Chinese have been investing heavily in Albania and its politics, pouring dollars and debt into the tiny Eastern European country. Beijing is working on to make Tirana the link connecting Europe with its Belt & Road Initiative. With the rising burden of debt and the real Chinese intentions on full show, the decision to make amends and work on joining the European Union can be summed up in two words ABANDON CHINA.
Albania was the founding member of China-CEE, which is now a “17+1” framework. It is the Chinese way of carving out their zone of influence in Europe and later became an integral part of the extension of Chinese BRI into Europe. In Albania, Chinese companies had purchased oil fields and the operating rights of the Tirana Airport. The Chinese investment is all around, be it Seaports, Roadways or Airports.
Till now Albania had been enjoying the investments which were coming without concerning themselves with the origin of these investments. However, the turn Albanian policymakers have taken showcases their increasing concerns regarding the Chinese actions and the repercussions of these actions.
The accession of Albania into the European Union will safeguard it from the international isolation it faces as it is deep in debt of China and a member of China’s 17+1 framework, making it eclipsed into the Chinese sphere. By coming in the EU’s sphere of influence, it has thwarted China’s efforts of overtaking the Balkan countries by drowning them in debt.
The successful accession of Albania into the EU will ensure the death of the Belt & Road Initiative, it will not allow China to buy the sovereignty of Albania and because of which the BRI will never become China-owned in Europe. It will stop China’s hegemonic modern silk road in the footsteps of the Balkans and will not enter the European continent, and if it does, the policies will surely not be dictated & owned by China. EU will ensure that it is Europe led, Europe owned and for the benefit of Europe.
Thus, we can say that the strategic value of the Albanian electoral reforms is immense. It will confirm its entry into the European Union and will negate all the Chinese efforts to encroach upon the sovereignty of Albania. The Albanian decision is a loud exclamation of the second de-coupling of Sino-Albanian relations, which will split the Chinese BRI and prepare the coffin of China’s 21st-century imperialism.