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Albania on path to launch CBI program despite EU criticism

Edi Rama, prime minister of Albania

The government of Albania is moving forward with the endeavor.

The decision, passed in July, opens up the bidding war for an international firm to spearhead a public-private partnership promoting the Balkan country’s to-be-determined CBI offering, which was first announced in 2019.

The agency, Drafting the Special Programmes of Citizenship, was created in 2020 and is responsible for drafting special citizenship programmes and controls the background checks for those who apply for citizenship. It then proposes to the other responsible authority, the Interior Ministry, to do background checks on the applicants and the president to grant the citizenship.

Bledar Skenderi, who runs the Agency, said that the actual issuance of citizenship and the required security checks would remain under state jurisdiction.

Government officials insist that the programme will be free of corruption and with the sole purpose of attracting investors, not just those seeking an Albanian passport.

Albania has been trying to ascend to the EU since 2009, becoming an official candidate for accession in 2014.

As Brussels noted in its latest progress report on Albania for 2021: “On citizenship rights, a provision of the Law on Citizenship adopted in July 2020 may still lead to the establishment of an investors’ citizenship scheme. Such schemes pose risks as regards security, money laundering, tax evasion, terrorist financing, corruption and infiltration by organised crime and are incompatible with the EU acquis. As a candidate country, Albania should refrain from developing such a scheme.”

Albania’s move would meet opposition from EU leaders in Brussels, who have been critical of CBI programs years ago and it’s still unclear if Albania will follow the route of its neighbor and fellow EU accession candidate, Montenegro by faced similar criticism from EU authorities.

Similar citizenship schemes in North Macedonia and Montenegro have also faced criticism from the EU.

Europe’s most recent programme for foreign investors was launched in January 2019 in Montenegro, when the government offered passports to investors who invested at least 250,000 euros in undeveloped regions in the north or 450,000 euros in more developed regions.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has been in favour of such an initiative since 2019 after attending a conference for “golden passports” in London. He considers the citizenship-by-investment programme as having “enormous potential” for the country.

In 2020, Albania passed the law “On Citizenship”,

which included an article that would grant citizenship for “special cases”: under the first, citizenship can be granted to a foreign citizen who has reached the age of 18 years old if it does not pose a threat to public order and national security, and in cases where Albania has a national interest or interest in the field of education, science, art, culture, economy and sport. And under the second case it can be granted through special programmes.

According to Parviz Malakouti, a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney, Albanian CBI could distinguish itself from its Caribbean CBI competitors by accepting Iranians, Russians and other nationalities closed off from some other CBI programs.

Neighbouring Montenegro CBI program suffered to continue in attempting accession to the EU, given Brussels’ strong and ever-growing antipathy to CBI. The program started on January 1, 2019. Montenegro had in the past offered economic citizenship to investors from 2008 to 2011. This new CBI program previewed its closure at the end of 2021 at the date the Montenegrin government expects to join the EU. Only 2,000 applicants are expected to profit from the citizenship scheme. The schme restarted in 2022. Assuming Albanian CBI launched could use closure of the scheme as a concession to the EU during accession negotiations.

Some professionals of RCBI investment migration industry predicted a good scheme coming for Albania in hoping that Albanian scheme could be launched with the correct professional consultation and attract attract the high-growth, middle-class markets and successfully abate the EU's ever-present distaste and baseless strikes against CBI. The « Golden Passports » focused on HNWI are critisized as a commodification of european values.

(by citinavi team)


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