Albanian parliament begins proceedings to dismiss President

Albanian parliament begins proceedings to dismiss President

TIRANA, June 13 – Albania’s parliament debated a no-confidence motion during Thursday’s session against President Ilir Meta after he canceled upcoming municipal elections, while a vote is expected later in the day. On Saturday, Albanian President Ilir Meta said he

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Only 17 percent of Albanian youth trusts parliament, study finds

Only 17 percent of Albanian youth trusts parliament, study finds

TIRANA, June 13 –  The Civic Resistance commissioned by Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Albania Office, conducted a National Survey on the Attitudes and Issues of Young People on the Political System, finding that the youth of Albania see themselves distanced

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13 member states ask EU to open accession negotiations for Albania, North Macedonia

13 member states ask EU to open accession negotiations for Albania, North Macedonia

TIRANA, June 11 – A number of EU member states’ Foreign Ministers issued an announcement on Tuesday calling upon the members of the European Council to take a decision to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia in June

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Number of Albanian asylum seekers rises, as political crisis deteriorates

Number of Albanian asylum seekers rises, as political crisis deteriorates

TIRANA, June 11 – The number of new asylum seekers in the European Union has increased considerably in the first months of 2019, the DPA news agency reported on Tuesday. At the same time, the number of asylum applications has

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President provides reasons to cancel local elections, as majority starts proceedings to fire him

President provides reasons to cancel local elections, as majority starts proceedings to fire him

TIRANA, June 10 – Albanian President Ilir Meta gave a long explanation of the constitutional and legal reasons that led him to the decision to cancel June 30 as the local elections date, a move which he warned on Saturday

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Albanian President cancels administrative elections

Albanian President cancels administrative elections

TIRANA, June 8 – Albanian President Ilir Meta announced on Saturday his decision to postpone the June 30 local elections, shortly before the launch of the opposition’s eighth protest seeking the resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and the

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PM warns removing President from office after latter cancels local elections date

PM warns removing President from office after latter cancels local elections date

TIRANA, June 9 – Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama reiterated on Sunday that the local elections will be held on June 30, despite the decision of President Ilir Meta to abolish the previously issued decree regarding the date of these elections.

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Political circles in Albania react to German-published wiretaps alleging govt-mafia ties

Political circles in Albania react to German-published wiretaps alleging govt-mafia ties

TIRANA, June 7 – Albanian President Ilir Meta said on Thursday evening that he is paying close attention to the publications of the German newspaper “Bild” containing telephone conversations during the 2017 parliamentary election campaign between several public officials in

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Opposition protests again seeking PM’s resignation

Opposition protests again seeking PM’s resignation

TIRANA, June 8 – Saturday’s opposition protest saw again clashes and moments of tension in front of the Albanian parliament. After the eighth national anti-government rally kicked off in front of the government’s headquarters, the protesters carried on in front

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Montenegrin police arrests three for trafficking Albanian-origin cannabis

Montenegrin police arrests three for trafficking Albanian-origin cannabis

TIRANA, June 7 – Three people from Podgorica were arrested on Thursday, charged with trafficking 285 kg of marijuana suspected of coming from Albania, the Montenegrin Police Directorate announced. Police said that “in the territory of the Tuz Municipality there

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 13 - Albania's parliament debated a no-confidence motion during Thursday’s session against President Ilir Meta after he canceled upcoming municipal elections, while a vote is expected later in the day. 

On Saturday, Albanian President Ilir Meta said he had decided to annul the presidential decree that had set June 30 as the local elections date, taking into consideration the chaotic deadend Albania is facing, with an opposition set on boycotting the local elections and the majority saying the elections will take place no matter what. Following Meta’s statement, opposition leader Lulzim Basha said during the eight national anti-govt rally that same evening the president’s decision was the opposition’s first victory in a battle that is yet to end against Prime Minister Edi Rama’s “narco-state.” Meanwhile, Rama, campaigning from the country’s south, not only declared the elections will take place, but also stated that Meta has lost his right to be the country’s president and that the majority would soon take concrete steps to remove him from office, despite the county lacking a functioning Constitutional Court. Despite the majority’s warnings, Meta began on Wednesday procedures to set a new date for the administrative elections. 

 

Albanian President cancels administrative elections

Albanian President Ilir Meta announced on Saturday his decision to postpone the June 30 local elections, shortly before the launch of the opposition’s eighth protest seeking the resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and the establishment of a caretaker government which can facilitate early elections.

Meta only announced the cancelation of the decree by which he had announced June 30 as a local elections date, explaining that “on Monday, June 10, the Institution of the President of the Republic will publicly make known all exhaustive constitutional, legal and logical arguments that led to this decision.”

In a statement distributed by his office, Meta explains the reasons for his decision, according to which it came as a result of “deep concern about the critical situation created in the country as a result of each side not reflecting.” 

Speaking from an electoral meeting in Berat, Rama described Meta’s decision as wrong and said that the elections will be held on June 30. 

Rama stated that "I also expected this and it is nothing else but the completion of a circle of a plan made a long time ago for one reason, for the reason that what is sought is not election postponement, but this government's seizure and the burial of the justice reform.”

Meanwhile, from the protest organized in front of the government’s headquarters, Democratic leader Lulzim Basha stated that the decision to cancel the June 30 elections is, according to him, “the first proof of our united force, but only a small step forward. We will continue this battle to victory.”

 

President provides reasons to cancel local elections, as majority starts proceedings to fire him 

Albanian President Ilir Meta gave a long explanation of the constitutional and legal reasons that led him to the decision to cancel June 30 as the local elections date, a move which he warned on Saturday evening and signed on Monday in public during the broadcast of a long statement.

From the outset,  Meta stated that “according to the Constitution, without a date set by the President of the Republic, general elections or elections for local government bodies can not be held.”

Speaking of the situation created after the opposition's decision to leave the parliament and later to not participate in the local elections, as well as the lack of the Constitutional Court, Meta said it is all very disturbing and seriously jeopardizes the democratic stability of Albania.

“In assessing the current situation of the country and the hate language used by the political parties, I can assess as the President of the Republic, there is a risk that Albania will go towards the unpredictable escalation of social tension that can cause uncontrollable consequences. As the Head of State and representative of the unity of the people, I consider this moment as a serious threat to public security, democratic stability, calm and peace in the country,” Meta said.

Continuing on the constitutional arguments, Meta stated that “the organization of free and democratic elections is the cornerstone of a democratic society. In this regard, the realization of elections for local government bodies without the participation of the opposition is problematic in the democratic aspect, because it prevents Albanian citizens from choosing among their competing alternatives their representatives at the local level.”

According to him, “this situation becomes even more absurd, referring to the fact that in these elections in more than half of the local government units only one candidate competes  to be elected as mayor, while for the other part the competition includes proposed candidates by a political force and registered with the CEC beyond legal deadlines.

On the other hand, listing his arguments, the Head of State observes that “the conduct of elections in the context of a tense political situation can result not only in the non-participation in elections of about half the voters, but creates the risk of a conflictual civil society, which poses a serious threat to the life and health of citizens, the democratic stability of the country, the unity of the people and the constitutional order.”

Meta also focused on the political conflict created in the country, the protests and clashes that occurred between demonstrators and police, as well as the opposition’s threats that it will not allow the local elections to take place altogether.

“If election day becomes a battle of power between the majority and opposition supporters, or in a battle between citizens and law enforcement bodies, the elections would lose their value in a democratic society, and they would go from being an essential means of guaranteeing a democratic society to a danger towards the democratic coexistence and unity of the people,” Meta added.

Regarding the fact that the postponement of the election date risks leaving local government without leaders, as current mandates expire, Meta explains that "the cancellation of the election date and its postponement beyond the electoral period set by the Electoral Code, in the conditions when it comes to defending constitutional values ​​and principles, the basis for the democratic functioning of the state and institutions, is not a constraint on the constitutional viewpoint.”

Meanwhile, the SP announced today it has decided to initiate the procedures for Meta’s dismissal. It is the first time that in Albania, the parliament will take such an extreme step, following Meta’s decision to cancel the date of local elections scheduled for June 30.

At the conclusion of the party's presidency meeting, the Minister for Relations with Parliament Elisa Spiropali stated that with his decision, the President has “committed a brutal act against the republic.”

Spiropali explained that the procedures for Meta’s dismissal “will begin immediately in Thursday's parliamentary session. It is our political duty to protect the Constitution, the constitutional order and the Republic.”

Procedures for the dismissal of the President start at the request of one-fourth of the MPs, or 36 of them, while the decision should be taken with at least two-thirds or 93 votes, which the majority does not have. However, even if the parliament vote is achieved, the last word belongs to the Constitutional Court, which is currently out of function, with only one out of its nine members. 

“In spite of this, it does not deprive us of the right to start the proceedings,” Spiropali said.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 13 -  The Civic Resistance commissioned by Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Albania Office, conducted a National Survey on the Attitudes and Issues of Young People on the Political System, finding that the youth of Albania see themselves distanced from the parties, where the vast majority (80 percent) of them are neither members nor activists of a political party.

The study included 1,200 survey respondents of the age group 18-30 years old, from May 7th to 31st of May 2019 and extended in the country’s 61 districts. Among others, the study also found that this lack of engagement is also explained by the fact that only a small part of them (17 percent) trust in political parties.

This survey aimed to bring some new data about the attitudes of Albanian youth on political system, political parties, their perceptions and trust on politics, governance and institutions. Another important aspect that this survey addressed with the upcoming local elections, is youth behavior as new voters, their views on the problems Albania is facing and the level of trust they have on new and old leaders of the country’s political parties.

Further on, the respondent’s belief in other young people involved in politics is at really low levels. More than half of them (60 percent) do not find successful models among young people in politics. But an even bigger percentage (48 percent) find old politicians as models of success in their political careers.

Meanwhile, 45 percent of young people think that other young people in political parties imitate their leader’s model.

Although 25 percent think that young people inside the party do not bring any innovation to the system, 30 percent think that young people bring about a new political model at their respective parties.

Concerning the country’s current political situation, 85 percent of youth are not pleased with the developments, the study found. Only 17 percent of young people have confidence in the parliament as a law-making institution and 61 percent of them said they are against the parliamentary boycott.

Only 16 percent of young people believe that politics considers them. Meanwhile, 60 percent of young people have a negative opinion on the government’s policies regarding education and employment. 

After graduating, young people feel insecure in the labor market. The same contingent of young people (60 percent) think that the education system in Albania does not respond to their needs. Only 33 percent of them think that education is partially linked to the labor market in Albania.

Particularly important is the high percentage of youth wanting to leave the country for a better lifestyle - a staggering 70 percent, the study found. The main reasons are economic, and particularly low employment, followed by low quality education and security. Half of young people who want to emigrate prefer Western European countries.

Finally, 55 percent of young people think that Albania's main challenges today are the economy, employment and education while 37 percent of them think that the main challenges are corruption and criminality. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 11 - A number of EU member states' Foreign Ministers issued an announcement on Tuesday calling upon the members of the European Council to take a decision to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia in June 2019.

Recalling the General Affairs Council Conclusions of June 2018 that reaffirmed the EU's commitment to the enlargement process and given the progress made by the Republic of Albania and the Republic of North Macedonia in implementation of internal reforms and fostering good-neighbourly relations, the Foreign Ministers called upon the EU Member States to fulfil their commitment to the Western Balkans European integration and to take decisions on opening negotiations with both countries.

The announcement came from the foreign ministers of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, Hungary, the Republic of Bulgaria, the Italian Republic, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Austria, the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Slovenia, the Republic of Poland and the Slovak Republic.

Albania has received a positive recommendation by the European Parliament three times in the past, and has still been unable to open accession negotiations with the EU, as all member states should unanimously agree to give both countries the green light.

It  has already been reported by a number of international media that negotiations again won’t open in June 2018 for Albania, as a number of member states (including the Netherlands and France), believe the country has not achieved to fulfill the EU membership criteria or that the EU first needs to reform from within. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 11 - The number of new asylum seekers in the European Union has increased considerably in the first months of 2019, the DPA news agency reported on Tuesday. 

At the same time, the number of asylum applications has increased from countries whose citizens enter the Schengen area without a visa.

Among them the DPA lists countries such as Venezuela, Colombia, Georgia and Albania.

First-time applications from West Balkan countries such as Albania and Caucuses nations such as Georgia were up while the proportion of applications from people from countries whose citizens don't require a visa to travel in the Schengen zone reportedly increased from roughly 20 percent to about 25 percent.

Venezuela, severely hit by the economic crisis, was ranked in March after Syria and before Afghanistan among the main countries from where asylum seekers sought help.

According to the report by 'Funke Medien-Gruppe', the number of asylum seekers from Venezuela has increased by 121 percent in the four months of this year. 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 10 - Albanian President Ilir Meta gave a long explanation of the constitutional and legal reasons that led him to the decision to cancel June 30 as the local elections date, a move which he warned on Saturday evening and signed today in public during the broadcast of a long statement.

From the outset,  Meta stated that “according to the Constitution, without a date set by the President of the Republic, general elections or elections for local government bodies can not be held.”

Speaking of the situation created after the opposition's decision to leave the parliament and later to not participate in the local elections, as well as the lack of the Constitutional Court, Meta said it is all very disturbing and seriously jeopardizes the democratic stability of Albania.

“In assessing the current situation of the country and the hate language used by the political parties, I can assess as the President of the Republic, there is a risk that Albania will go towards the unpredictable escalation of social tension that can cause uncontrollable consequences. As the Head of State and representative of the unity of the people, I consider this moment as a serious threat to public security, democratic stability, calm and peace in the country,” Meta said.

Continuing on the constitutional arguments, Meta stated that “the organization of free and democratic elections is the cornerstone of a democratic society. In this regard, the realization of elections for local government bodies without the participation of the opposition is problematic in the democratic aspect, because it prevents Albanian citizens from choosing among their competing alternatives their representatives at the local level.”

According to him, “this situation becomes even more absurd, referring to the fact that in these elections in more than half of the local government units only one candidate competes  to be elected as mayor, while for the other part the competition includes proposed candidates by a political force and registered with the CEC beyond legal deadlines.

On the other hand, listing his arguments, the Head of State observes that “the conduct of elections in the context of a tense political situation can result not only in the non-participation in elections of about half the voters, but creates the risk of a conflictual civil society, which poses a serious threat to the life and health of citizens, the democratic stability of the country, the unity of the people and the constitutional order.”

Meta also focused on the political conflict created in the country, the protests and clashes that occurred between demonstrators and police, as well as the opposition’s threats that it will not allow the local elections to take place altogether.

“If election day becomes a battle of power between the majority and opposition supporters, or in a battle between citizens and law enforcement bodies, the elections would lose their value in a democratic society, and they would go from being an essential means of guaranteeing a democratic society to a danger towards the democratic coexistence and unity of the people,” Meta added.

Regarding the fact that the postponement of the election date risks leaving local government without leaders, as current mandates expire, Meta explains that "the cancellation of the election date and its postponement beyond the electoral period set by the Electoral Code, in the conditions when it comes to defending constitutional values ​​and principles, the basis for the democratic functioning of the state and institutions, is not a constraint on the constitutional viewpoint.”

Meanwhile, the SP announced today it has decided to initiate the procedures for Meta’s dismissal. It is the first time that in Albania, the parliament will take such an extreme step, following Meta’s decision to cancel the date of local elections scheduled for June 30.

At the conclusion of the party's presidency meeting, the Minister for Relations with Parliament Elisa Spiropali stated that with his decision, the President has “committed a brutal act against the republic.”

Spiropali explained that the procedures for Meta’s dismissal “will begin immediately in Thursday's parliamentary session. It is our political duty to protect the Constitution, the constitutional order and the Republic.”

Procedures for the dismissal of the President start at the request of one-fourth of the MPs, or 36 of them, while the decision should be taken with at least two-thirds or 93 votes, which the majority does not have. However, even if the parliament vote is achieved, the last word belongs to the Constitutional Court, which is currently out of function, with only one out of its nine members. 

“In spite of this, it does not deprive us of the right to start the proceedings,” Spiropali said.

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 8 - Albanian President Ilir Meta announced on Saturday his decision to postpone the June 30 local elections, shortly before the launch of the opposition’s eighth protest seeking the resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and the establishment of a caretaker government which can facilitate early elections. 

Meta only announced the cancelation of the decree by which he had announced June 30 as a local elections date, explaining that “on Monday, June 10, the Institution of the President of the Republic will publicly make known all exhaustive constitutional, legal and logical arguments that led to this decision.”

In a statement distributed by his office, Meta explains the reasons for his decision, according to which it came as a result of “deep concern about the critical situation created in the country as a result of each side not reflecting.” 

“Free and fair elections are the main Copenhagen criterion and under the current conditions, for the lack of accountability of both sides, we are heading towards one party elections. In this way, any opportunities for opening membership negotiations with the European Union are undermined, the image as a NATO member country is undermined and the OSCE chairmanship for 2020 is attacked,” Meta wrote.

In his statement, the president invites “all responsible local and international actors to unite constructive contributions to the urgent resettlement of irreplaceable political dialogue and to find a quick solution that serves the European future of Albania.”

Speaking from an electoral meeting in Berat, Rama described Meta’s decision as wrong and said that the elections will be held on June 30. 

Rama stated that "I also expected this and it is nothing else but the completion of a circle of a plan made a long time ago for one reason, for the reason that what is sought is not election postponement, but this government's seizure and the burial of the justice reform.”

Meanwhile, from the protest organized in front of the government’s headquarters, Democratic leader Lulzim Basha stated that the decision to cancel the June 30 elections is, according to him, “the first proof of our united force, but only a small step forward. We will continue this battle to victory.”
                    [post_title] => Albanian President cancels administrative elections 
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                    [ID] => 142098
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-09 12:09:49
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 9 - Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama reiterated on Sunday that the local elections will be held on June 30, despite the decision of President Ilir Meta to abolish the previously issued decree regarding the date of these elections. 

The Socialists went on campaigning on Sunday, while, according to Rama, Meta’s decision to cancel the decree deciding on the elections’ date lost him his right to stay in office. 

Meta’s unexpected decision to cancel June 30 as the date of the elections did not lead to any new space for the parties to review their positions; instead, the situation now seems even more complicated.

On its part, the opposition spoke yesterday about the first victory in a battle that will continue. 

“It was this union that dictated the cancellation of June 30, the criminal process of criminal junta,” Basha said.

He stated more than once that “the departure of Prime Minister Edi Rama is a non-negotiable condition.”

On the other hand, for the majority, apart from the fact that Meta has violated the constitution and should leave the office, nothing changes about the election. 

As he continued on Sunday with his electoral tour, from Burrel, Rama spoke of “an act that is politically suicidal, legally null, does not exist and morally is a shame.”

Rama went even further, stating that “yesterday Ilir Meta wrote his fate as a president who has lost the right to stay in this office.” 

It remains to be seen whether this is simply a political assessment, or a warning towards actual steps that will lead to the president's dismissal. 

The move, however, would remain unfulfilled in the absence of the Constitutional Court.

The president's decision has also opened a constitutional and legal debate, although he has so far only given the political reasons that prompted him to take the decision to cancel the previously signed decree. A full judicial explanation as to what grounds Meta plans to cancel the local elections date is expected on Monday morning. 

 
                    [post_title] => PM warns removing President from office after latter cancels local elections date 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-08 12:16:47
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 7 - Albanian President Ilir Meta said on Thursday evening that he is paying close attention to the publications of the German newspaper “Bild” containing telephone conversations during the 2017 parliamentary election campaign between several public officials in Durres and persons with criminal precedents, as well as to the prosecution order which seeks the prohibition of their publication in the media.

“Issuing such an order indirectly intimidates the free media, which is unacceptable for a democratic society,” Meta noted in his response. 

He stressed that the Constitution protects the citizens' fundamental right to information, that freedom of expression, press, radio and television is guaranteed and that it bans premeditated censorship of the media. 

“No warrant can have authority over this fundamental constitutional right of free and independent media,” Meta said. 

He urged the prosecution to investigate with priority and professionalism the public file, as well as any other file related to manipulation of elections or intimidation of citizens in order to deform their free will and distort the election result.

“Any delay in investigating and clarifying the truth by the prosecution does not serve the general public interest,” Meta added. 

He also urged all journalists to denounce any criminal offense they might be aware of.

Political circles in Tirana addressed again on Friday with concern telephone conversations between the main leaders of the Socialist Party and the municipalities of Durrës and Shijak with members of criminal groups during the election campaign two years ago.

One of the most prominent persons of the crime scene in the Durres region was revealed having six conversations with the mayor, the most important Socialist Party representative in the second largest city of Albania, Vangjush Dako, as well as with leaders of other administrative bodies to influence the last elections through pressures, violence, threats, and vote buying.

For the Democratic Party, which has since February resigned its parliamentary mandates, Rama must leave office because the published materials constitute a scandal revealing the voting mechanism through international drug trafficking groups protected by the Socialist Party.

“An illegal Prime Minister, who came to power with the votes of crime, as confirmed by the recent wiretapping of Bild, not only does not consider his resignation, but is in defense of Vangjush Dako, going as far as to publicly threaten whoever publishes the secret of his cooperation with crime to buy votes. With or without his resignation, Edi Rama is no longer credible. Even those who believed in the mafia Prime Minister,  today are certain that everything happened with his blessing,” said Enkelejd Alibeaj of the Democratic Party.

The Socialist Movement for Integration also expressed concern about the wiretaps published by Bild. Its vice-president, Luan Rama, called them evidence of a crime state, just the peak of the iceberg of this criminal phenomenon spread all over Albania. 

On the other hand, Socialist Party representatives are paying more attention to how these interviews were released to the media, calling it a legal violation related to secret state investigations. 

Rama, during a visit to a quake-stricken area between Korcs and Erseka, ignored and left unanswered questions about these wiretaps published by Bild, while coming to the protection of Dako himself, saying that these wiretaps do not provide sufficient evidence to make assumptions that SP officials have been involved in vote-buying. 

Meanwhile, on Friday, the prosecution at the Serious Crimes Court in Tirana announced that File 339, initiated in December 2016, contains accusations for 74 people in collaboration from production, sale and trafficking of narcotics to unlawful influence in the elections.

According to the head of this prosecution, Donika Prela, the first year the file was investigated only for "Narcotics Trafficking" in cooperation, as well as "Cleaning of Criminal Activity", while the second year a second prosecutor added the accusations “structured crime,” “Conducting Criminal Offenses by Criminal Organization,” “Active and Passive Corruption of High State Officials or Local Elections.”

Subsequently, two other prosecutors added to the file another 40 names as well as additional charges such as “Exercise of illegal influence on persons exercising public functions," “Falsifying documents,” “Falsifying stamps, signatures or stamps forms,” “Abuse of land,” etc, carried out in cooperation as a structured criminal group.

Parallel to investigations into criminal offenses in the electoral field, where the speed of CD discoloration has increased, another prosecutor has been added and investigations are also underway for the publication of secret investigative acts that are punishable by prosecution and undermine the continuation of investigations. 

 
                    [post_title] => Political circles in Albania react to German-published wiretaps alleging govt-mafia ties 
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                    [ID] => 142095
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-08 11:22:24
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-08 09:22:24
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 8 - Saturday’s opposition protest saw again clashes and moments of tension in front of the Albanian parliament. 

After the eighth national anti-government rally kicked off in front of the government’s headquarters, the protesters carried on in front of the parliament in response to the calls of the head of the opposition’s Democratic Party Lulzim Basha. 

Within a short period of time, groups apparently began to throw firecrackers, smoke bombs and fireworks towards the police lined up at the building’s entrance. 

Police quickly responded by throwing tear gas and water to disperse the crowd.

President Ilir Meta called on opposition leaders to stop the protest and on demonstrators to disperse peacefully. 

Basha and the opposition leaders withdrew a few minutes later to the Democratic Party's headquarters, from where Basha once again said that the “battle continues” and that “the only solution is the departure of Prime Minister Edi Rama and the establishment of a transitional government to prepare early elections.” 

President Ilir Meta's decision to cancel the local elections date, announced on Saturday, is seen as the opposition’s “first victory.” 

While Basha spoke from the DP headquarters, a group of protesters stood in front of the parliament's headquarters. It took the return of DP Secretary General Gazmend Bardhi and SMI exponent Petrit Vasili for them to later leave, as the police guard had advanced towards the demonstrators.

 
                    [post_title] => Opposition protests again seeking PM’s resignation 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-07 11:33:35
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 7 - Three people from Podgorica were arrested on Thursday, charged with trafficking 285 kg of marijuana suspected of coming from Albania, the Montenegrin Police Directorate announced. 

Police said that “in the territory of the Tuz Municipality there were seized four bags mounting to 258 kg of narcotics suspected as cannabis, which were found inside a van after having passed by means of sailing through the Shkodra Lake, from Albania to Montenegro, for the purpose of distributing it to the territory of the country.”

Montenegrin citizens Srgjan Singjelić, 37 years old, Savo Vukcevic 24 and Ratko Shushkavcevic 26, were all born and residing in Podgorica.

Investigations so far point to the narcotics having been trafficked from Albania to Montenegro through the Shkodra lake, a common route for drug traffickers in the country’s north. 

 
                    [post_title] => Montenegrin police arrests three for trafficking Albanian-origin cannabis  
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            [post_date] => 2019-06-14 10:15:52
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, June 13 - Albania's parliament debated a no-confidence motion during Thursday’s session against President Ilir Meta after he canceled upcoming municipal elections, while a vote is expected later in the day. 

On Saturday, Albanian President Ilir Meta said he had decided to annul the presidential decree that had set June 30 as the local elections date, taking into consideration the chaotic deadend Albania is facing, with an opposition set on boycotting the local elections and the majority saying the elections will take place no matter what. Following Meta’s statement, opposition leader Lulzim Basha said during the eight national anti-govt rally that same evening the president’s decision was the opposition’s first victory in a battle that is yet to end against Prime Minister Edi Rama’s “narco-state.” Meanwhile, Rama, campaigning from the country’s south, not only declared the elections will take place, but also stated that Meta has lost his right to be the country’s president and that the majority would soon take concrete steps to remove him from office, despite the county lacking a functioning Constitutional Court. Despite the majority’s warnings, Meta began on Wednesday procedures to set a new date for the administrative elections. 

 

Albanian President cancels administrative elections

Albanian President Ilir Meta announced on Saturday his decision to postpone the June 30 local elections, shortly before the launch of the opposition’s eighth protest seeking the resignation of Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama and the establishment of a caretaker government which can facilitate early elections.

Meta only announced the cancelation of the decree by which he had announced June 30 as a local elections date, explaining that “on Monday, June 10, the Institution of the President of the Republic will publicly make known all exhaustive constitutional, legal and logical arguments that led to this decision.”

In a statement distributed by his office, Meta explains the reasons for his decision, according to which it came as a result of “deep concern about the critical situation created in the country as a result of each side not reflecting.” 

Speaking from an electoral meeting in Berat, Rama described Meta’s decision as wrong and said that the elections will be held on June 30. 

Rama stated that "I also expected this and it is nothing else but the completion of a circle of a plan made a long time ago for one reason, for the reason that what is sought is not election postponement, but this government's seizure and the burial of the justice reform.”

Meanwhile, from the protest organized in front of the government’s headquarters, Democratic leader Lulzim Basha stated that the decision to cancel the June 30 elections is, according to him, “the first proof of our united force, but only a small step forward. We will continue this battle to victory.”

 

President provides reasons to cancel local elections, as majority starts proceedings to fire him 

Albanian President Ilir Meta gave a long explanation of the constitutional and legal reasons that led him to the decision to cancel June 30 as the local elections date, a move which he warned on Saturday evening and signed on Monday in public during the broadcast of a long statement.

From the outset,  Meta stated that “according to the Constitution, without a date set by the President of the Republic, general elections or elections for local government bodies can not be held.”

Speaking of the situation created after the opposition's decision to leave the parliament and later to not participate in the local elections, as well as the lack of the Constitutional Court, Meta said it is all very disturbing and seriously jeopardizes the democratic stability of Albania.

“In assessing the current situation of the country and the hate language used by the political parties, I can assess as the President of the Republic, there is a risk that Albania will go towards the unpredictable escalation of social tension that can cause uncontrollable consequences. As the Head of State and representative of the unity of the people, I consider this moment as a serious threat to public security, democratic stability, calm and peace in the country,” Meta said.

Continuing on the constitutional arguments, Meta stated that “the organization of free and democratic elections is the cornerstone of a democratic society. In this regard, the realization of elections for local government bodies without the participation of the opposition is problematic in the democratic aspect, because it prevents Albanian citizens from choosing among their competing alternatives their representatives at the local level.”

According to him, “this situation becomes even more absurd, referring to the fact that in these elections in more than half of the local government units only one candidate competes  to be elected as mayor, while for the other part the competition includes proposed candidates by a political force and registered with the CEC beyond legal deadlines.

On the other hand, listing his arguments, the Head of State observes that “the conduct of elections in the context of a tense political situation can result not only in the non-participation in elections of about half the voters, but creates the risk of a conflictual civil society, which poses a serious threat to the life and health of citizens, the democratic stability of the country, the unity of the people and the constitutional order.”

Meta also focused on the political conflict created in the country, the protests and clashes that occurred between demonstrators and police, as well as the opposition’s threats that it will not allow the local elections to take place altogether.

“If election day becomes a battle of power between the majority and opposition supporters, or in a battle between citizens and law enforcement bodies, the elections would lose their value in a democratic society, and they would go from being an essential means of guaranteeing a democratic society to a danger towards the democratic coexistence and unity of the people,” Meta added.

Regarding the fact that the postponement of the election date risks leaving local government without leaders, as current mandates expire, Meta explains that "the cancellation of the election date and its postponement beyond the electoral period set by the Electoral Code, in the conditions when it comes to defending constitutional values ​​and principles, the basis for the democratic functioning of the state and institutions, is not a constraint on the constitutional viewpoint.”

Meanwhile, the SP announced today it has decided to initiate the procedures for Meta’s dismissal. It is the first time that in Albania, the parliament will take such an extreme step, following Meta’s decision to cancel the date of local elections scheduled for June 30.

At the conclusion of the party's presidency meeting, the Minister for Relations with Parliament Elisa Spiropali stated that with his decision, the President has “committed a brutal act against the republic.”

Spiropali explained that the procedures for Meta’s dismissal “will begin immediately in Thursday's parliamentary session. It is our political duty to protect the Constitution, the constitutional order and the Republic.”

Procedures for the dismissal of the President start at the request of one-fourth of the MPs, or 36 of them, while the decision should be taken with at least two-thirds or 93 votes, which the majority does not have. However, even if the parliament vote is achieved, the last word belongs to the Constitutional Court, which is currently out of function, with only one out of its nine members. 

“In spite of this, it does not deprive us of the right to start the proceedings,” Spiropali said.

 
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