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News 01 Nov 17

Tirana Brokers Deal Uniting Montenegro's Albanian Parties

Albania has hailed an election deal, which it helped to mediate, between four ethnic Albanian political parties in Montenegro – designed to strengthen the community's hand in the neighbouring country.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Albanian PM and Foreign Minister (left) and their Montenegrian counterpart. Photo: Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs 

Tirana has again helped to broker a deal for ethnic Albanian parties outside the country's borders that aims to unite them in elections and maximize their power.

Four Albanian parties from the majority Albanian area in Montenegro of Malesia, which is an administrative part of the capital, Podgorica, have signed an agreement pledging to pick candidates together for the local elections on November 26.

"We agree, for the local elections in November, to try to maximize the result in favour of Albanian candidates," the agreement, which BIRN has seen, reads.

The document, signed by the Albanian Alternative party, the Democratic Albanian Union, the Albanian Democratic League and Democratic Forum for Integration, emphasised that their main aim is to gain control of local control in the town of Tuzi, in the Malesia area, which has around 11,000 voters.

"We are going to act together to get a majority on the communal council of Tuzi," the statement noted.

Albanian government sources told BIRN on Tuesday that they worked hard to make the deal possible. On Tuesday, the Albanian Foreign Ministry greeted the "Tuzi deal" in a press release. "We welcome the reflection of Albanian political and social factors in Montenegro, to draw lessons from past problems, splits and failures," it read.

This not the first time that Albania has taken action to help strengthen the hand of the Albanian community in Montenegro.

In September 2016, ahead of the general election in Montenegro, the three main ethnic Albanian parties, Forca [Strength], the Democratic Albanian Union, UDSH, and the Albanian Alternative, agreed to run together in a coalition, to get more seats in parliament and so boost the fight for national rights.

The ethnic Albanian parties in last year's elections in Montenegro all backed the Democratic Party of Socialists of former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic in exchange for pledges of more local power.

The government promised to grant independent municipal status to the town of Tuzi not later than May of this year.

However, this is not yet a done deal, although it was a central topic of discussion during the meeting of Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati with his Montenegrian counterpart, Srdan Darmanovic, in January.

It was also an important topic during the April visit of Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Bushati to Podgorica, where they met Prime Minister Dusko Markovic.

According to the 2011 census, 30,439 Albanians live in Montenegro making up 4.91 per cent of Montenegro's population.

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