Home Page
News 23 Feb 17

Albania Opposition Ignores EU Call to End Protests

The opposition Democratic Party is continuing its street protests despite appeals from top EU officials to end its boycott of parliament and work with the government on completion of key judicial reforms. 

Fatjona Mejdini
PD leader Lulzim Basha meeting the protesters. Photo: PD

Albania's Democratic Party-led opposition on Thursday started a sixth day of street protests against the centre-left government of Edi Rama, calling on the government to step down so that a "technical" government can be formed to lead the country into free and fair elections.

This was despite the European Union Enlargement Commissioner making clear that Brussels does not support protests on the street and wants the issue of free and fair elections solved in parliament.

Commissioner Johannes Hahn on Wednesday said he regretted the parliamentary boycott announced by the opposition.

"The political debate should not take place outside but inside parliament. Cooperation of government and opposition is crucial for the country's ambition to join the European Union," Hahn said.

Hahn also said that at a time when important judicial reforms are taking place in Albania, the opposition has to play an active role in their implementation.

"It is of utmost importance to maintain parliamentary continuity in a time where substantial reforms are on the agenda of the parliament, such as the setting up of the vetting bodies in the framework of the justice reform," he said.

The Rapporteur on Albania in the European Parliament, Knut Fleckenstein, took the same standpoint on Wednesday at a press conference in Tirana.

"I ask my colleagues and friends in the Democratic Party to continue to do what they believe is important, but I call on them to return to their job. This is not just my stand but is also that of Commissioner Hahn, of the [EU] High Representative [Federica] Mogherini, of all of us," he said.

Like Hahn, Fleckenstein urged the political parties to work together on the judicial reform, which the EU sees as a priority before opening accession talks with Albania.

"We have had a tough battle over the judicial reform, so I ask my colleagues in the PD [the Democrats]: don't give me the impression that you have misused it. The minimum that I ask from you is to return and work in the parliamentary commissions [on the reform]," he said.

Despite the appeals from the EU, the Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha on Wednesday said that opposition MPs would gather in a protest tent erected in Tirana on Thursday and speak there instead of in parliament.

During a meeting with students in the tent on Wednesday evening, Basha sent a defiant message.

"I ask you to not accept anything less than the European model for things. What is good for Europe is also good for Albanians; what is not good for Europe, it should be the same here as well," he told the students.


Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Headlines:

29 Mar 17

Bosnian Serb Policemen, Soldier Charged with Rogatica Attack

Former reservist policemen Dragan Lubarda and Ozren Planojevic and Bosnian Serb ex-soldier Zdravko Lubarda were charged with committing crimes against humanity in the Rogatica area in 1992 and 1993.

29 Mar 17

Europe Must Play a Key Role in the Balkans

28 Mar 17

US Senate Approves Montenegro as NATO Member

Premium Selection

29 Mar 17

EPP Cannot ‘Police’ its Balkan Members, Daul Says

As Balkan members of the same centre-right bloc in the European Parliament feud openly with other, EPP leader Joseph Daul says the bloc cannot ‘point fingers’ but does its best to find compromises.

28 Mar 17

Serbia’s New President: Who Will It Be?

Eleven men are competing to become Serbia’s head of state, promising higher living standards, life without fear and an end to party employment - but whether something will really change remains to be seen.