Brussels critical of Albanian opposition decision to give up their parliamentary mandates

Mogherini Hahn Brussels Albania Crisis
EU High Representative Federica Mogherini and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn

Brussels | 21 Feb 2019 (Tirana Echo) – The European Union has criticized a decision by Albania’s opposition parties to resign their parliamentary mandates en-block, and cautioned against any violent acts during a mass protest held today in Tirana.

In a statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on the latest developments in Albania, the European Union denounced any rhetoric by political leaders calling for violence and said the drastic decision to give up their parliamentary mandates, seriously undermines Albania’s path towards European integration.

Furthermore, the decision by the opposition to relinquish their mandates seriously hinders the functioning of democracy in Albania. The Parliament is the place where reforms and relevant developments should be discussed and taken forward, not boycotted. These decisions and acts are counterproductive, go against the democratic choice of Albanian citizens and undermine the progress the country has made on the European Union path.” read the statement from Brussels.

In a similar call this morning, European Parliament Rapporteur on Albania Knut Fleckenstein MEP, said Brussels does not understand how political parties can give up its parliamentary mandates and that no-one should be surprised if accession talks are postponed again.

I have heard the opposition will give up its mandates and this is incomprehensible in Brussels. Members of Parliament are elected to represent a better alternative to the policies of the government. If Albania does not have a functioning parliament, no-one should be surprised if accession talks are postponed again.” Fleckenstein said.

Miss. Mogherini and Mr. Hahn added that the European Union expects all members of the Albanian Parliament to defend the ideals and principles of democracy, to continue serving in the Parliament, and to take any necessary measure to avoid violent acts and incendiary statements.

We equally expect the Government and the opposition to engage in constructive discussions with a view to overcoming the current political situation to the benefit of Albania and its citizens.” said Mogherini and Hahn in their joint statement.

Following the unprecedented decision by opposition parties to abandon parliament, which may take the small Balkan country into an unknown spiraling political crisis, the United States and the European Union called on individual opposition MPs to reject their party leadership line arguing the extreme decision would “undermine the basic principles of democracy and subvert the important progress Albania has achieved on rule of law and responsible governance.”

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.

While Macedonia has agreed to an historic name change deal with Greece and looks set for accession talks, it is yet unclear whether member states will agree to formally opening accession negotiations with Albania which needs to get its act together in fighting endemic corruption and political links to organized crime.

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