Albanian PM transfers Foreign Minister portfolio to Deputy Minister turned down by President

Tirana, Albania | 24 Jan 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has transferred the European & Foreign Affairs portfolio to the Deputy Minister Gent Cakaj who was earlier turned down by the country’s President on the grounds of irresponsibility and lack of experience.

As expected, the delegation of ministerial competencies by Rama comes one a day after he assumed the ministerial duties for Europe and Foreign Affairs, following a refusal last week by President Ilir Meta to decree Gent Cakaj as Minister, citing ‘lack of experience’ and ‘irresponsible statements’ as key arguments.

During an official ceremony at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, PM Rama made it clear that he does not intend to exercise the ministerial duties and that he delegates ministerial competencies to Gent Cakaj, currently Deputy Minister.

This will be the shortest speech in my life. Under my duties as Foreign Minister, I delegate the direction of this ministry as well as the representation to international organizations to Mr. Gent Cakaj,” said Rama in his opening remarks to the diplomatic staff.

Talking to his staff, the new delegated Minister Cakaj said Albania will not change its strategic foreign policy course and added that the months ahead are crucial for the country.

Albania is closer than ever to opening accession talks for EU membership. We are also at a crucial time when we prepare for the OSCE Chairmanship for next year and we will continue with new energies and a proactive approach.” said Cakaj.

Cakaj, 28, takes over from Ditmir Bushati who has been at the top diplomatic post since 2013, making him the longest serving foreign minister in post-communist Albania. 

Prior to becoming deputy minister, Cakaj who comes from Kosovo, served as the PM’s political adviser and is known to be a trusted aide of Rama. 

Speaking to local media after the delegation of the duties to Cakaj, President Meta said he could not comment or interfere with internal organizational issues of the executive.

The President does not interfere, nor does he comment on the internal organizational acts of the executive branch or its ministries. As President of the Republic I respect the Constitution and I am very clear on my competencies regarding which institution should be granted constitutional authority  to sign international agreements on behalf of the Republic of Albania,” said Meta.

Since the refusal of Meta to decree Cakaj as Minister following a proposal by Rama, the prime minister described the decision as ‘anti-constitutional and shameful’.

The refusal of the President to decree the new Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs is not only anti-constitutional, but also shameful. The arguments provided by Mr. President are scary for the very scandalous level and shameful for the institution”, wrote Rama on Twitter last week.

Despite conflicting analysis by constitutional experts, the feud between Albania’s highest authorities will be hard to resolve, given that the country does not currently have a functioning constitutional court, due to an ongoing vetting process of its judges.

However, PM Rama and its socialist party have vowed to challenge several recent decisions of President Meta to the newly formed constitutional court which is expected to fill its vacancies in the coming weeks.

Albania hopes to start accession talks with the European Union in June, following a positive decision by the European Council last year, conditional upon a successful tangible record of its fight against corruption and organized crime as well as a steady progress of its milestone reform of the justice system.

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