Albanian President Refuses to Decree PM Proposal for Foreign Minister, deepening the feud between Meta and Rama

Tirana, Albania | 11 Jan 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Albania’s President Ilir Meta has refused to decree PM Rama’s proposal for the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, citing ‘lack of experience’ and ‘irresponsible statements’ as key arguments.

Following PM Edi Rama’s proposal to replace half of his cabinet in December,  the President decreed all nominations, apart from the replacement of current Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati with his young deputy Gent Cakaj, who comes originally from Kosovo.

In what the Prime Minister called an ‘anti-constitutional act’, the President refused to decree Cakaj on the grounds that he lacks the necessary experience and following  irresponsible statements in the past with regard to Albania’s regional policy, referring to a recent TV interview of Cakaj where he allegedly expressed his personal opinion in favor of an exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia.

Such dangerous statements of Mr. Gent Cakaj, with unforeseeable consequences in the region and beyond, both bilaterally and with wider respect, go against the regional policy of the Albanian State, NATo and the European Union.” – said Meta in his letter of explanation.

This is the first time a President refuses the decree of a proposal for ministerial position, prompting political and legal analysts to question the constitutional authority of the resident to refuse ministerial decrees.

Albania’s constitution does not leave many powers to the President’s institution, which is seen as a largely ceremonial role in the small Balkan country.

In its 98th Article, the Albanian Constitution states that “The Minister is appointed and released from duty by the President of the Republic, following a proposal by the Prime Minister, within 7 days. The Decree is examined within 10 days by the Parliament.”

While opposition parties have hailed the President’s position in refusing to decree Cakaj, Prime Minister Rama called 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.

The decision to block the PM’s proposal further escalates the political feud between Mr. Meta and Mr. Rama, once old socialist allies, and adds tensions to the political climate of the country, only 5 months before the upcoming local elections.

The conflict between the country’s highest state authorities will be hard to be resolved, given that Albania does not currently have a functioning constitutional court, due to a slow vetting process of the country’s judges and prosecutors as part of a wider reform of its highly corrupt justice system.

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