Roundtable Discussion with Local Stakeholders – Municipality of Korça: “On a Comprehensive and Accountable Approach to the Fight against Organized Crime”In the framework of the project: Baseline Assessment of the Albanian Intersectoral Strategy on Countering Organised Crime 2013-2020

Organized crime has emerged as one of the most important challenges for Albania since the beginning of the transition in the 1990s until today. Over the years, criminal groups have come to sophisticate their activity and increase the negative impact on the economy, society and politics of the country.

This has led the European Union to set the effective fight against organized crime as one of the key priorities for Albania for the European integration process. Finally, in March 2020, the European Union decided to open accession negotiations with Albania, but in order to organize the first intergovernmental conference with EU member states, Albania must meet several conditions, including tangible progress in the fight against organized crime.

Albanian governments have taken continuous steps in the fight against this phenomenon and since the mid-2000s the fight against organized crime has been led through sectoral and cross-sectoral strategies such as the strategy against human trafficking, the strategy against drugs, and the Inter Sectoral Strategy for the Fight against Organized Crime, Trafficking and Terrorism 2008 – 2013 and that for the period 2013-2020.

Despite their importance, these strategies have been adopted without any prior consultation with the public, and the results of their implementation have never been subject to public discussion.

This shortcoming has, on the one hand, made these processes not subject to democratic accountability, but on the other hand it has created a distance between the implementing institutions and the public, at a time when the contemporary approach is that the fight against organized crime considered as a matter not only of institutions but of a whole society approach.

The most obvious consequence of the lack of such an approach is the decline in public confidence in institutions that fight against organized crime. Half of the public, surveyed in polls conducted late last year, think the government will not win the fight against organized crime.

The year 2020 is the last year of implementation of the Inter Sectoral Strategy against Organized Crime and the year in which the new document will start to be drafted and then approved. This moment provides a good opportunity for institutions to engage in an open and exhaustive discussion with the general public and stakeholders regarding the future approach to the problem of organized crime.

The Center for the Study of Democracy and Governance is supporting this process through the project: Baseline Evaluation of the Inter Sectoral Strategy for the Fight against Organized Crime, Illegal Trafficking and Terrorism – 2013-2020, implemented with the support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Albania.

In addition to drafting an evaluation report and drafting a strategy for the next period, the project aims to support and promote a well-informed debate on the achievements and challenges in the fight against organized crime and the implementation of a whole society approach in the fight against it.

Within this approach, conferences and discussions are planned in several cities of the country with the involvement of local authorities, academia, business representatives, students and other stakeholders.