German Ruling CDU/CSU Slams Albania Opposition Decision to Abandon Parliamentary Mandates

Florian Hahn CDU CSU Bundestag
Florian Hahn - CDU/CSU Spokesman on European and Foreign Affairs

Berlin, Germany | 27 Feb 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Germany’s ruling CDU/CSU right wing coalition has criticized Albania’s opposition decision to quit their parliamentary mandates, asking other candidates on electoral lists to fill empty seats in parliament.

The harsh comments by DP’s sister party in Berlin come after opposition MPs resigned en-block from their parliamentary mandates last Thursday, calling for PM Rama to resign and for early elections to be held.

During an interview for Deutsche Welle, CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group European & Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Florian Hahn said his party welcomes peaceful protests but not the parliamentary boycott which damages the place where the debate should take place, adding that individual MPs should not take orders from their party leaders on whether to keep or quit their parliamentary mandate given by the people.

The decision to quit parliamentary mandates was a grave mistake, and in fact it is not up to the party to decide on the fate of individual mandates. This is a difficult moment and typically there are next-in-line names on the electoral lists who should take over. If there are reasonable people who are capable of doing this, then they should take over the vacated seats.” – said Hahn.

Recalling the years when the right wing democrats (DP) were in power and the socialists were boycotting parliament in opposition, Hahn said he had been equally critical of the then opposition actions and underlined that parliament, as a central nucleus of democracy, should never be boycotted.

I have offered my advice for parliament not to be boycotted and I advice again that somehow this path be abandoned, in order to foster a normal cooperation with each-other, or even against each-other, but in the framework of the parliament, as democracy prescribes.” – added Hahn.

The harsh comments from the CDU/CSU parliamentary group come a day after opposition supporters clashed with police in front of the parliament building in Tirana, which degraded in violent clashes and tear gas thrown at protesters.

Hahn pointed out that if the aggravated political crisis takes the country to early elections, it would not only set a negative precedent for the future, but it would also harm Albania’s aspirations for EU membership.

What can be won by imposed early elections out of constitutional provisions? What would the next opposition learn from this? It would draw the lesson that by boycotting the system and quitting their mandates they could get early elections again. This is a question of where Albania wishes to go. Does it wish to be a stable democratic country and part of the European Union? This is why the boycott is not suitable for the support needed for EU membership  and we want Albania to be part of the EU and share our democratic values,” added Hahn.

Germany is supportive of Albania’s EU accession but many MPs from its ruling CDU/CSU coalition are skeptical over the small Balkan country’s readiness in engaging in formal accession talks with Brussels.

EU leaders agreed last June to start membership talks with Albania providing the small Balkan nation shows substantial progress in its crucial reform of the highly corrupt justice system.

The Commission is expected to produce an annual progress report on Albania later in May, after which member states will deliver the final verdict on whether talks will start this year or be postponed for another one.

Germany’s Parliament the Bundestag will be crucial in steering the process which will be seen with interest by other skeptical member states in a tired and self consumed union.

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.”

Mr. Hahn’s comments add to the European Union stance which has repeated its calls for Albania’s opposition parties to engage in talks with the socialist majority and return to parliament, warning their obstructive acts could damage Albania’s aspirations for EU integration.

Bureaucrats in Brussels have hinted that several member states, notably Germany, France and the Netherlands are reluctant to grant the green light and agree to formally opening accession negotiations with Albania which needs to get its act together in fighting endemic corruption and break close political links to organized crime.

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