President Meta to OSCE: “Elections on June 30 are invalid and illegal”

President Meta to OSCE: “Elections on June 30 are invalid and illegal”

TIRANA, June 20 – Albanian President Ilir Meta officially addressed the OSCE and ODIHR presences in Albania on Wednesday, stating the country will not be holding local elections on June 30 and if they are to be held, they will

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Decision to open negotiations with Albania, North Macedonia delayed to October

Decision to open negotiations with Albania, North Macedonia delayed to October

TIRANA, June 20 – The foreign ministers of the EU member states postponed the decision whether to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia in October, agreeing to the text that will be proposed to the heads of states

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Tirana Prosecution fails to provide evidence for charges against opposition leader

Tirana Prosecution fails to provide evidence for charges against opposition leader

TIRANA, June 19 –  On Wednesday, the head of the opposition’s Democratic Party Lulzim Basha voluntarily appeared as a defendant before the Tirana Prosecution to be informed on the charges filed against him at the beginning of the week. Prosecutors

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Civil tension grows as opposition supporters clash with state police in several districts

Civil tension grows as opposition supporters clash with state police in several districts

TIRANA, June 19 – Opposition supporters physically clashed with state police in Kavaja on Wednesday evening, when they tried to forcefully enter the Commissions of Electoral Administration Zones (KZAZ), where the election materials were located. Police threw tear gas and

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Socialists officially seek President’s dismissal

Socialists officially seek President’s dismissal

TIRANA, June 18 – A group of 55 Socialist MPs urged the parliament on Monday to dismiss Albanian President Ilir Meta for canceling the date of local elections. They stated that the president’s act is in open contradiction with the

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North Macedonia wants to separate from Albania regarding decision to open EU negotiations

North Macedonia wants to separate from Albania regarding decision to open EU negotiations

TIRANA, June 16 – Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama reacted on Saturday to North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski’s request to the European Union to judge his country separately from Albania on the topic of opening accession negotiations. This comes after

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Majority of CEC rulings are illegitimate, OSCE report says

Majority of CEC rulings are illegitimate, OSCE report says

TIRANA, June 16 – The OSCE, in its domestic report on local elections in Albania, published on June 14, has confirmed that the Socialist Party is currently the only party running in the 31 municipalities of the country. This means

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Deadlock escalates as political sides clash on local elections’ date

Deadlock escalates as political sides clash on local elections’ date

TIRANA, June 16 – Albanian President Ilir Meta reiterated on Saturday that his decree canceling June 30 as the local election date is compulsory to be implemented by all. Meta’s comments came a day after the parliament passed a resolution

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Opposition leader says Tirana Prosecution charges against him are illegal

Opposition leader says Tirana Prosecution charges against him are illegal

TIRANA, June 15 –  Head of the opposition’s Democratic Party Lulzim Basha did not appear as a defendant to the Tirana Prosecution call that would charge him on the issue of the DP’s lobbying contracts in the US before and

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The Netherlands rejects opening EU accession negotiations for Albania in 2019

The Netherlands rejects opening EU accession negotiations for Albania in 2019

TIRANA, June 13 – The Dutch parliament made the Netherlands the first EU member state to officially announced on Thursday it will object to the opening of accession negotiations with the EU for Albania, while approving it for North Macedonia.

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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-20 10:44:09
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 20 - Albanian President Ilir Meta officially addressed the OSCE and ODIHR presences in Albania on Wednesday, stating the country will not be holding local elections on June 30 and if they are to be held, they will be considered invalid.

In a letter directed to the respective offices, Meta wrote that his latest decree has annulled June 30 as the official local elections date, due to the deadlock Albania is facing and the opposition’s complete parliamentary resignation. 

Meta wrote to Miroslav Lajčák, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, and to Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, that the one-sided votings held by Edi Rama and his government are illegitimate and should not be recognized.

In the letter, dated June 19, 2019, Meta informed the officials that if elections are to be held in violation of the decree, they will be considered invalid.

Meta said that his decree of June 10, 2019, also published in the Official Journal of the Republic of Albania, is in force and therefore valid local elections can not take place on June 30.

“Abiding to Albanian legislation, the decree No. 1199, dated 10.06.2019, is in force and published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Albania on 11th of June” wrote Meta.

He further added that this decree should be legally implemented by all other institutions, including the Central Election Commission and other election administration bodies.

“The decree is therefore legally binding and must be implemented by all national institutions involved in the administration of electoral process in Albania, including the Central Election Commission.”

The president’s letter to the OSCE comes amidst growing tensions and clashes between local authorities led by the opposition and the government.

“Prime Minister Edi Rama’s efforts to ignore and block the implementation of the decree of the President of the Republic are completely lawless and worsening the crisis in Albania,” Meta concluded. 

On Monday and Tuesday, opposition representatives and protesters clashed with municipal representatives in Shkoder and Tropoje, seeking they vacate the voting centres.Opposition supporters stormed in and damaged election supplies to prevent preparations for local elections in several voting centers across the country.

On Tuesday, local authorities in several other cities demanded the local election administration to vacate voting centers in compliance with the presidential decree.

Meanwhile, Albania is set to hold the OSCE chairmanship next year.

Following Meta’s letter, a number of politics experts commented on his decree and the meaning it holds regarding the work of international presence like OSCE in Albania assisting with elections’ development and implementation. 

“OSCE/ODIHR has a right to draw attention based on what it has monitored. But Albanian elections are implemented based on the President’s decree. In the instance when the President makes a second decree and cancels elections, OSCE/ODIHR become unnecessary. ODIHR representatives should have interrupted their mission a day after the president’s decree,” Besnik Mustafaj, former Foreign Minister, told local News 24. 

 
                    [post_title] => President Meta to OSCE: “Elections on June 30 are invalid and illegal”  
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 20 - The foreign ministers of the EU member states postponed the decision whether to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia in October, agreeing to the text that will be proposed to the heads of states who are to meet under the European Council meeting on June 20 to 21. 

The decision postponement for fall was expected, as Germany is awaiting the evaluation of its parliament, and some skeptical countries like France and the Netherlands were not ready for a quick decision.

The text agreed on by the foreign ministers can be considered hopeful if the context of domestic developments in the member states is taken into account, as well as the fact that the Council is committed to come up with a clear decision within October. 

According to the conclusion forwarded to the Council, the latter “takes into consideration the recommendation of the Commission to open accession negotiations with Albania based on its positive assessment of the progress made and the fulfillment of the conditions identified by the Council. Given the limited time available and the importance of the matter, the council will turn to this issue in order to reach a clear and substantial decision as soon as possible and not later than October 2019.” 

The same wording was given for North Macedonia, rejecting the latter’s request to be judged separately from Albania regarding the decision to open accession negotiations.

However, diplomats said that North Macedonia still has the best chance of opening negotiations later this year, while Albania's prospects seem to be smaller.

Perceived as one of Europe's most corrupt countries, according to Transparency International, Albania has made limited progress in the fight against money laundering, despite dismissals of corrupt judges and prosecutors, EU and US officials say.

At the end of the meeting, Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn said afternoon that he “regretted that a few member states did not support the Commission's clear proposal.”

According to him, Albania and North Macedonia should have been rewarded as they had fulfilled what they were asked last year. EU credibility is at stake, as well as the further promotion of reforms,” Hahn underlined.

In Tirana, the Ambassador of the European Delegation, Luigi Soreca, through a Twitter post, commented on the position of member states, writing that in anticipation of the “clear and substantial decision” in October, it is now time for all institutions to follow up on focusing on the reform process, particularly on judicial reform.

Meanwhile, General Democrat Party Secretary Gazmend Bardhi ironised Rama, writing that “Rama is the only prime minister in the world who calls bad news for the country as positive news, breaking the record from the previous year, when he lied to Albanians that the negotiations were opened.”

 
                    [post_title] => Decision to open negotiations with Albania, North Macedonia delayed to October
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 19 -  On Wednesday, the head of the opposition’s Democratic Party Lulzim Basha voluntarily appeared as a defendant before the Tirana Prosecution to be informed on the charges filed against him at the beginning of the week. 

Prosecutors informed him only about the Criminal Code articles under which he was charged, but failed to provide any factual basis or reasonable grounds for the charge.

Prosecutors told Mr. Basha this information would be provided to him at a later time, because it is not ready yet.

Previously in the week Basha called the prosecution allegations laughable and said that Prime Minister Edi Rama cannot scare him to quit, in context of the opposition protesting for Rama’s resignation since February, Basha addressed the prosecution with a letter saying charges against him are against the law. 

“I don’t care about these accusations and political investigation. Edi Rama thinks he will scare me or make the opposition back off, but he will soon see I don't scare or withdraw. This absurd investigation has been under his sleeve for almost a year, without evidence or any fact against the Democratic Party. Now that he is desperate to diffuse attention from the political crisis and his cooperation with crime to manipulate the elections, Rama has decided to make up absurd accusations to distract the public,” Basha said.

Basha argued the prosecution has not presented to him the investigative findings which put him under charge as required by the law and said that until it does, he will not appear to court. 

He said these are methods “similar to Putin and Maduro in order to shut their mouths and neutralize political opponents and destroy democracy,” but will only further “deepen the pit where Edi Rama has fallen and make his end inevitable.”

On Tuesday, the Democratic Party and a number of media also said that Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj met with Basha’s bodyguard and informed him the opposition leader’s life is in danger - a move which the opposition has called a way to try and blackmail him. 

In a letter to Lleshaj, bearing the signature of the DP Secretary General Gazmend Bardhi, it was written that Lleshaj has violated any procedure and any institutional way of dealing with this issue.

According to the opposition, it is not the individual or his bodyguard who can address threats and protection against them, but the Guard of the Republic.

In the DP's letter to Lleshaj it is stated that taking into account the circumstances and legal violations in dealing with this issue, the suspicion that the real purpose of the meeting was the blackmail the head of opposition is reinforced.

The prosecution began verifying PD lobbying contracts with several US companies in November 2017 to clarify funding sources for these contracts and to see if the transactions were legal.

The issue surfaced when American lobbying firm ‘Muzin Capitol Partners’ supplemented with additional information its legally binding declarations for the Department of Justice and the left-oriented Mother Jones magazine wrote a lengthy report on it. 

According to ‘Muzin’ statements, the entity has received three payments in the amount of $675,000 for its work in favor of the Democratic Party in 2017: the first payment on March 24, 2017 was made by the firm “Biniatta Trade LP “, worth $150,000, while the other two payments were made by the Democratic Party, one on March 27, for $25,000, and the other on June 9 for $500,000. The DP has only taken credit for one of the payments, coming from party resources. 

The Democratic Party has also denied any connection with the “Biniatta Trade LP” firm, which is registered in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is owned by a chain of companies registered in Belize – a Central American state, known as a fiscal haven.

 
                    [post_title] => Tirana Prosecution fails to provide evidence for charges against opposition leader
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 19 - Opposition supporters physically clashed with state police in Kavaja on Wednesday evening, when they tried to forcefully enter the Commissions of Electoral Administration Zones (KZAZ), where the election materials were located. 

Police threw tear gas and water with high pressure to keep protesters away, even leaving the facility's area to capture some of the most active protesters in its proximity.

Similar moments of strong tension took place on Wednesday in many cities in Albania, especially where the opposition has control over the municipalities.

Its supporters gathered around the premises where the KZAZ have been set up, demanding the electoral process be terminated.

The situation also escalated towards confrontation between the police and opposition supporters in Kamez and Burrel, where similar attempts were made to enter the KZAZs.

The police used tear gas to keep away opposition supporters who later entered the Palace of Sports, taking, destroying and ultimately burning the electoral materials.

Right-wing municipalities have been insisting for the premises that have been made available to the Central Election Commission (CEC) to be evacuated for the June 30 local elections process.

According to them, the decree of President Ilir Meta for the cancellation of June 30 should be respected, and consequently there can be no election process. 

Meanwhile, the CEC considered the decision of the head of state to be void and continued with the preparations for the elections.

Strong tensions were also recorded in Tropoja this week, where opposition supporters entered the city centre’s KZAZ. 

In Shkodra, opposition supporters, together with employees of the Shkodra Municipality and former DP deputies, gathered on Tuesday evening in the yard of the "Shejnaze Juka" Middle School and, after several minutes of confrontation with the police forces, set fire to the school’s first floor.

All materials brought by the CEC for the preparation of the voting day were burned.

Former DP MP Bardh Spahija, who was among the protesters, said that “this was only the beginning of popular revolt against those who are imposing on Albanians one-sided elections. It was a quick reaction of the Shkodra citizens. This is not violence. Violence was an attempt by the state police to usurp the institutions and impose itself on Shkodra citizens.”

Meanwhile, Shkodra Mayor Voltana Ademi, who heads the association of right-wing mayors, said in the evening that “only the voting stands were burned. Electoral materials are illegally in the school premises administered by the Municipality of Shkodra. The municipality has officially asked for three days that the buildings where the KZAZs are located to be released.”

The incidents in Tropoja and Shkodra also follow the request of the mayors of some right-wing municipalities to release the KZAZs and polling stations. Through this demand, right-wing municipalities and opposition supporters are aiming to hinder preparations for the June 30th local elections, while the Socialists are continuing with elections’ preparation.

The CEC said it is continuing its work on preparing the June 30 local elections and warned that any violation of this process constitutes a punishable criminal offense.

On Wednesday, Rama warned a new law that will prohibit anyone who commits ‘electoral violations,’ meaning that will interrupt local elections, to leave the country for ten years will pass in parliament. 

 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-18 17:45:31
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 18 - A group of 55 Socialist MPs urged the parliament on Monday to dismiss Albanian President Ilir Meta for canceling the date of local elections.

They stated that the president’s act is in open contradiction with the constitutional principles of a parliamentary Republic, with the functions of his post and with the normal exercise of sovereignty by the people.

Meta has lost the right to stay in that office with our consent. We Socialists do not belong to the political culture of arbitrariness and violation of the law and will strictly follow the procedure foreseen in the case of dismissal to the President,” said Chairman of the SP’s parliamentary group Taulant Balla.

Socialist MPs added that the president decreed the election date and on the basis of that decree a series of preparations for the electoral process started  which he can no longer be reversed. 

They cited a series of Constitutional articles and comments that the president has violated the constitutional principle that sovereignty belongs to the people.

The Socialist MPs further claim that not setting a new local elections date also undermines the people’s sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the Central Election Commission responded today to President Meta's request for information on the 122 MPs currently in parliament and their affiliation in electoral zones. 

Meta's request to the CEC was interpreted as a preliminary step in studying the possibility to call off the parliament. 

When the parliament adopted the resolution against Meta's decree by 100 votes, although having already entered into force with its publication in the Official Journal, Meta said that the existing parliament, with its deputies, is not legitimate

“The President has been elected by the Parliament. Of course not by this, but by a completely legitimate Parliament,” said Meta.

Meanwhile, Meta has started consultations with political parties on a new local election date. He has held meetings with several opposition parties, but the Socialists are continuing the campaign to run the elections on June 30th. 

Meta also held a meeting with the ambassadors of the European Union, where he explained his steps for the postponement of local elections. According to local media reports, during the meeting they discussed the political crisis and the risk of civil conflict between the parties for and against local elections.

However, the Socialist MPs formalized their opinion of dismissing the president. They wrote in the official request that with the annulment of local elections, the president practically behaves as from a position of absolute power, acting beyond the powers given by the sovereign through the Constitution. 

The request of the Socialist MPs is based on Article 90 of the Constitution, which states that “the President of the Republic may be dismissed for serious violations of the Constitution and for committing a serious crime.”

The dismissal proposal must be made by a quarter of MPs and should be supported by two-thirds, or 94 votes, which the Socialists do not formally have.

According to the foreseen procedure, a review of the request for dismissal from the Legal Affairs Commission should be made, followed by an investigative commission, which should make a report after the investigation, and the examination of the materials at a debate session, as well as the final vote, in favor with 94 votes . Finally, the parliament’s decision is sent to the Constitutional Court, which is currently out of order.

Only when the Constitutional Court approves the blame of the President of the Republic, it can declare his dismissal from office, the Constitution states. All legal steps require weeks of action, not mentioning the season holidays, the inexistence of a Constitutional Court currently and the absence of socialist votes; elements that make it difficult to follow the procedures. 
                    [post_title] => Socialists officially seek President’s dismissal 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-17 23:02:02
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 16 - Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama reacted on Saturday to North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski’s request to the European Union to judge his country separately from Albania on the topic of opening accession negotiations.

This comes after a number of international media but also EU member state representatives confirmed Albania will most probably not open accession negotiations with the EU within 2019, for not having properly met the set EU requirements. 

The Netherlands, one of the main countries that has rejected Albania’s claims to opening negotiations repeatedly, however, said that North Macedonia has made better progress and stands more chances. 

“The separation of North Macedonia from Albania on their path to the EU, by granting N. Macedonia the green light and hampering the opening of negotiations with Albania is not a good thing, but it’s the only way to move forward,” Pendarovski said.

Soon thereafter, Rama reacted through a tweet on his personal account.

“President SPendarovski implicitly favors ‘decoupling from Albania?’ Strange to hear this, especially when one considers the key contribution of Albania and Albanians in our friendly neighbour’s state democratic development and European path. Doesn’t sound right nor practical frankly,” Rama tweeted. 

 
                    [post_title] => North Macedonia wants to separate from Albania regarding decision to open EU negotiations
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-17 07:50:21
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 16 - The OSCE, in its domestic report on local elections in Albania, published on June 14, has confirmed that the Socialist Party is currently the only party running in the 31 municipalities of the country. 

This means that residents of these municipalities have been deprived of the right to a truly democratic vote.

The report states that “the Electoral Code does not provide for any special procedure for elections without opponents.”

The OSCE/ODIHR conclusions present a grim picture of the state of the legal framework in which elections are supposed to take place.

“Many previous OSCE recommendations remain unaddressed, including those related to the impartiality of election commissions, transparency of campaign funding, decriminalization of defamation, and the mechanism for electoral disputes.”

Moreover, the report mentions the politicization of the Central Election Commission (CEC), which currently is made up of five of the seven members to be appointed, four of whom have been nominated by the Socialist Party.

Also, Electoral Zone Commissions (CEAZ) are controlled by the Socialist majority, as the Electoral College has denied the opposition the right to have its commissioners in the CEAZs.

The OSCE notes that the CEC decision, confirmed by the Electoral College, does not support the Electoral Code. 

"Whereas, the provisions of the Electoral Code on the composition of the election administration refer to the political parties representing the parliamentary majority and the parliamentary opposition, with its decision No. 657 of 23 May 2019, [CEC] conditioned the right to nominate commissioners to take part in elections.”

The report further mentions the controversial exclusion that the CEC made of the new party, the Democratic Obedience, led by Astrit Patozi, due to the obligation to collect the necessary signatures to register as an electoral subject.

The OSCE also notes that the media scene is more concentrated on the hands of a few oligarchs than ever before. 

"The completion of the digitalization process resulted in a single family controlling three out of five national private frequencies,” the report stated. 

This is Hoxha family, owner of Top Channel television, which has been closely linked with Prime Minister Rama since he was the mayor of Tirana. Also, the architect of the house of Prime Minister Rama in Surrel is also the architect of the monumental tomb of Dritan Hoxha.

Meanwhile, there is little accountability over the use of media by political parties, and the CEC has failed to set up a Media Monitoring Board within legal deadlines.
                    [post_title] => Majority of CEC rulings are illegitimate, OSCE report says 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-17 07:47:16
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 16 - Albanian President Ilir Meta reiterated on Saturday that his decree canceling June 30 as the local election date is compulsory to be implemented by all. Meta’s comments came a day after the parliament passed a resolution where it considered his act as a violation of the Constitution, but Meta said that according to him the current parliament is illegitimate. 

The open clash between the Socialist majority and Meta continues to thrive, with both sides replying to each other’s attacks publicly. The signature that Meta issued on the decree canceling June 30 as the date of the local elections, has led the political scene in the country towards what seems like a fierce battle.

One day after the parliament dedicated over six hours of debate towards Meta’s decision to cancel the set elections’ date as a violation of the Constitution and overcoming powers, Meta reiterated today that “the decree is in force. The decree is mandatory for everyone to enforce. Whoever wants to continue in the path of lawlessness, let them go! It’s their right. The president has the right to call on people to reflect daily.”

Further on, Meta said that those who decide to walk the road of illegitimacy will surely meet the consequences of provoking the country’s social peace and stability.

The parliament approved yesterday with 100 votes the resolution against the decree which sought reflection by the president. However, the latter made it clear that the existing parliament, with its deputies, is not legitimate.

“The president has been elected by the parliament. Of course not by this one, but by a completely legitimate parliament,” Meta said.

Meta also addressed the Central Election Commission on Saturday, requesting information on the number of mandates and the running MPs list.

The majority's attitude to the President's decree was compared to a coup by rhe opposition’s Democratic leader Lulzim Basha. 

Rama is normally continuing with the elections’ campaign. Yesterday, he faced an attempt from opposition supporters to block the road to Librazhd. At least seven people, among whom four local Democratic Party leaders and one former MP were arrested, while sixteen others are being prosecuted.

“These actions are open political reprimands against opponents and citizens protesting against Edi Rama’s regime. They come after the banning of some 500 members and supporters of the Democratic Party over the past five months. Meanwhile over 50 supporters and members of the Democratic Party are being held in prisons. This is the balance of a repressive regime and not of a democratic European country,” Basha said.

However, Interior Minister Sandër Lleshaj responded through Twitter, saying that “Lulzim Basha is responsible for any individual who acts against the law and political freedoms in the country! Obstruction of electoral subjects and the use of explosives against them and law enforcement are criminal offenses. No one will be tolerated and whoever responds to calls for illegality will face the law!” said Lleshaj. 
                    [post_title] => Deadlock escalates as political sides clash on local elections’ date
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-15 18:16:40
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-15 16:16:40
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 15 -  Head of the opposition’s Democratic Party Lulzim Basha did not appear as a defendant to the Tirana Prosecution call that would charge him on the issue of the DP’s lobbying contracts in the US before and during the 2017 parliamentary election campaign, which were alleged of being illegal. 

After calling the prosecution allegations laughable and saying that Prime Minister Edi Rama cannot scare him to quit, in context of the opposition protesting for Rama’s resignation since February, Basha addressed the prosecution with a letter saying charges against him are against the law. 

“I don’t care about these accusations and political investigation. Edi Rama thinks he will scare me or make the opposition back off, but he will soon see I don't scare or withdraw. This absurd investigation has been under his sleeve for almost a year, without evidence or any fact against the Democratic Party. Now that he is desperate to diffuse attention from the political crisis and his cooperation with crime to manipulate the elections, Rama has decided to make up absurd accusations to distract the public,” Basha said.

Basha argued the prosecution has not presented to him the investigative findings which put him under charge as required by the law and said that until it does, he will not appear to court. 

He said these are methods “similar to Putin and Maduro in order to shut their mouths and neutralize political opponents and destroy democracy,” but will only further “deepen the pit where Edi Rama has fallen and make his end inevitable.”

On Tuesday, the Democratic Party and a number of media also said that Interior Minister Sander Lleshaj met with Basha’s bodyguard and informed him the opposition leader’s life is in danger - a move which the opposition has called a way to try and blackmail him. 

In a letter to Lleshaj, bearing the signature of the DP Secretary General Gazmend Bardhi, it was written that Lleshaj has violated any procedure and any institutional way of dealing with this issue.

According to the opposition, it is not the individual or his bodyguard who can address threats and protection against them, but the Guard of the Republic.

In the DP's letter to Lleshaj it is stated that taking into account the circumstances and legal violations in dealing with this issue, the suspicion that the real purpose of the meeting was the blackmail the head of opposition is reinforced.

The prosecution began verifying PD lobbying contracts with several US companies in November 2017 to clarify funding sources for these contracts and to see if the transactions were legal.

The issue surfaced when American lobbying firm ‘Muzin Capitol Partners’ supplemented with additional information its legally binding declarations for the Department of Justice and the left-oriented Mother Jones magazine wrote a lengthy report on it. 

According to ‘Muzin’ statements, the entity has received three payments in the amount of $675,000 for its work in favor of the Democratic Party in 2017: the first payment on March 24, 2017 was made by the firm “Biniatta Trade LP “, worth $150,000, while the other two payments were made by the Democratic Party, one on March 27, for $25,000, and the other on June 9 for $500,000. The DP has only taken credit for one of the payments, coming from party resources. 

The Democratic Party has also denied any connection with the “Biniatta Trade LP” firm, which is registered in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is owned by a chain of companies registered in Belize – a Central American state, known as a fiscal haven.

Meanwhile, the political deadlock the country is facing, as well as the opposition’s decision to boycott upcoming June 30 local elections - backed by President Ilir Meta’s decision to cancel them a week ago - has led to a chaotic escalation of relations between the country’s power sides. 

After Meta announced he will be postponing elections date to maintain the country's democratic functionality, Rama vowed the elections will be held, while having the parliament start proceedings to remove Meta from office - a move that is illegitimate in the context of lack of a Constitutional Court. 

Similarly, over the course of the last opposition protests, a number of DP officials have been escorted to the police for participation, causing more civil unrest. 

Both sides have been criticized by the international monitoring forces for inciting unnecessary violence and compromising democracy in the country. 

 
                    [post_title] => Opposition leader says Tirana Prosecution charges against him are illegal 
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                    [post_date] => 2019-06-14 10:23:01
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-06-14 08:23:01
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, June 13 - The Dutch parliament made the Netherlands the first EU member state to officially announced on Thursday it will object to the opening of accession negotiations with the EU for Albania, while approving it for North Macedonia.

The Dutch Parliament blocked on Thursday the opening of EU membership negotiations with Albania this year by 70 percent of its parliament. 

A motion submitted by MPs from the governing coalition parties was voted in the Dutch parliament, asking the Dutch government to vote in the European Council against the opening of negotiations with Albania.

The motion received the votes of 105 out of 150 MPs in the Dutch parliament. This whopping over 2/3 is unexpected.

This motion was presented by deputies Pieter Omtzigt , Anne Mulder and Nico Drost, whose parties are part of the Dutch government coalition.

According to the government itself, Albania has not achieved tangible results in the fight against corruption and organized crime.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Block said that the European Commission's recommendation to open negotiations with Albania was premature. He added that Albania has not met the criteria of the fight against corruption and organized crime.

Blocking the opening of negotiations with Albania comes after the Dutch parliament officially asked two weeks ago the government for the EU to re-establish visas for Albanians.

Prime Minister Rama despised this parliamentary request, saying it was a populist move and that the Dutch government did not have to ask the EU for the resettlement of visas.

In fact, the Dutch government submitted the request to the European Commission, which has begun its review and is expected to come up with a decision within three weeks.

On Thursday, however, the Dutch parliament also passed a motion that sought the opposite for North Macedonia. MPs voted for opening negotiations with the state.

Another motion related to Albania did not get the support of the MPs, as was presented by far-right MP Vicky Maeijer. This motion required that negotiations with Albania should never be opened. 

The Dutch Embassy to Tirana released a statement following the publication of the decision of the Netherlands, stating the EU’s enlargement policy is founded on rigorous conditions that seeks to guarantee the reforms undertaken by each new member state are founded and will last. 

“However, there are also steps, particularly in the fight against corruption and organized crime, which Albania still needs to take before meeting the criteria set by the Council in June 2018 before accession negotiations can be opened. We strongly encourage the government of Albania to continue its path. We recognize how challenging is the process of accession and we will continue to support Albania in its reforms as much as we can, especially in the area of ​​rule of law,” the embassy announcement said. 

On Wednesday, European Council President Donald Tusk also said that he backs the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, but warned that not all EU member states agree with this assessment.

At a joint press conference with President of the North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, President Tusk, said that both states have “all that is expected” to continue the path towards membership, but, he underlined, “not all member states are prepared to make the decision to open negotiations in the coming days.”

 
                    [post_title] => The Netherlands rejects opening EU accession negotiations for Albania in 2019 
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            [post_date] => 2019-06-20 10:44:09
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, June 20 - Albanian President Ilir Meta officially addressed the OSCE and ODIHR presences in Albania on Wednesday, stating the country will not be holding local elections on June 30 and if they are to be held, they will be considered invalid.

In a letter directed to the respective offices, Meta wrote that his latest decree has annulled June 30 as the official local elections date, due to the deadlock Albania is facing and the opposition’s complete parliamentary resignation. 

Meta wrote to Miroslav Lajčák, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, and to Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, that the one-sided votings held by Edi Rama and his government are illegitimate and should not be recognized.

In the letter, dated June 19, 2019, Meta informed the officials that if elections are to be held in violation of the decree, they will be considered invalid.

Meta said that his decree of June 10, 2019, also published in the Official Journal of the Republic of Albania, is in force and therefore valid local elections can not take place on June 30.

“Abiding to Albanian legislation, the decree No. 1199, dated 10.06.2019, is in force and published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Albania on 11th of June” wrote Meta.

He further added that this decree should be legally implemented by all other institutions, including the Central Election Commission and other election administration bodies.

“The decree is therefore legally binding and must be implemented by all national institutions involved in the administration of electoral process in Albania, including the Central Election Commission.”

The president’s letter to the OSCE comes amidst growing tensions and clashes between local authorities led by the opposition and the government.

“Prime Minister Edi Rama’s efforts to ignore and block the implementation of the decree of the President of the Republic are completely lawless and worsening the crisis in Albania,” Meta concluded. 

On Monday and Tuesday, opposition representatives and protesters clashed with municipal representatives in Shkoder and Tropoje, seeking they vacate the voting centres.Opposition supporters stormed in and damaged election supplies to prevent preparations for local elections in several voting centers across the country.

On Tuesday, local authorities in several other cities demanded the local election administration to vacate voting centers in compliance with the presidential decree.

Meanwhile, Albania is set to hold the OSCE chairmanship next year.

Following Meta’s letter, a number of politics experts commented on his decree and the meaning it holds regarding the work of international presence like OSCE in Albania assisting with elections’ development and implementation. 

“OSCE/ODIHR has a right to draw attention based on what it has monitored. But Albanian elections are implemented based on the President’s decree. In the instance when the President makes a second decree and cancels elections, OSCE/ODIHR become unnecessary. ODIHR representatives should have interrupted their mission a day after the president’s decree,” Besnik Mustafaj, former Foreign Minister, told local News 24. 

 
            [post_title] => President Meta to OSCE: “Elections on June 30 are invalid and illegal”  
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