Albania Crisis – President calls on both sides to reflect and avoid undesired confrontation

Ilir Meta
Ilir Meta

Berlin, Germany | 20 Feb 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Albanian President Ilir Meta has called on the country’s political parties to reflect and avoid undesirable confrontations which may occur as a result of a spiraling political crisis unfolding in the small Balkan nation.

Mr. Meta made his comments in Berlin during an interview for Deutsche Welle, after meeting with Germany’s President Frank W. Steinmeier, as his countrymen hold their breath back home due to an unfolding political clash between opposition and government.

Meta’s intervention comes as opposition parties the Democratic Party and Socialist Movement for Integration have warned their parliamentary groups will abandon their parliamentary mandates in protest of Edi Rama’s socialist government.

Albania’s President said the spiraling of protests and divisive political engagement outside institutions are unwelcomed developments, only months before EU member states should grant the green light to the country to start membership talks with Brussels.

This is the moment for all sides to reflect and to avoid undesired confrontations. Extreme acts do not serve democracy, do not serve the strengthening of institutions and neither to the European integration of the country,” said Meta.

Western diplomats fear an unfolding of civil unrest in the small Balkan country which may get out of control as opposition parties have called for another massive protest in front of the parliament for Thursday morning.

During its latest parliamentary group meeting, former Democratic Party chair and former PM Sali Berisha said PM Rama cannot be brought down with peaceful protests and that he deserved to be shot down.  

If a prime minister does not depart, the opposition cannot win. Rama deserves a bullet in his head, but the interest of the country does not permit us. We have to undertake any actions which topple Rama,” said Mr. Berisha.

Mr. Meta who used to lead the Socialist Movement for Integration (LSI) until 2017 when he was elected President of Albania thanks to the votes of the socialist majority of PM Rama, said the country is being depopulated and its youth need hope, which is why both sides need to back off.

It’s time for the opposition to take a step backward, and for the majority to take two steps backward, both the government and the Prime Minister, who need to understand they have the principal responsibility to govern the country.” said Mr. Meta.

The President of Albania shared his views with Deutsche Welle as both the US Embassy and the EU Delegation in Tirana slammed the country’s opposition parties in wanting to quit their parliamentary mandates.

The United States and the European Union called on individual opposition MPs to reject their party leadership line which had earlier called on all their members to give up their parliamentary mandates and resign en-block in protest to Edi Rama’s socialist government.

Threats by the Democratic Party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, and other opposition parties to abandon their mandates in Parliament undermine the basic principles of democracy and subvert the important progress Albania has achieved on rule of law and responsible governance.” read the US statement.

Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama has refused to bow down to opposition demands for his resignation, saying his clear socialist majority in parliament grants him the mandate to carry on governing.

Albania hopes to formally start membership talks with the European Union later this year, and Rama’s socialists are keen to show some credible results in their reform of the highly corrupt justice system, which the opposition depicts as captured by the governing majority linked to criminal groups.

European Union leaders agreed last June to start membership talks with Albania and Macedonia within 2019 if both small Balkan nations show substantial progress in their crucial rule of law reforms under way.

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