Palmer urges opposition to join upcoming local elections during Tirana visit

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 10, 2019 07:30

Palmer urges opposition to join upcoming local elections during Tirana visit

Story Highlights

  • During an interview for the media on Tuesday Palmer spoke about the deadlock, saying it encourages the opposition to seek ways to re-engage in the political process and participate in the upcoming local elections as the only solution to the deadlock.

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TIRANA, April 9 – Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Matthew Palmer kicked off his visit to Tirana on Monday with a long meeting with Prime Minister Edi Rama, during a time of unprecedented political crisis, when the opposition has withdrawn from parliament by resigning its mandates and chosen to protest to demand the departure of Rama and the establishment of a caretaker government to prepare the country for early elections.

It is for this reason that Palmer’s visit was anticipated with a special interest in Tirana, although according to diplomatic sources, it was previously scheduled and part of a series of diplomatic visits in several countries in the region.

In February, after the opposition’s violent protest in front of the government headquarters and the announcement of its decision to “burn mandates”, the US official was reported to have called the two main opposition leaders, head of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha and head of the Socialist Movement for Integration Monika Kryemadhi.

A State Department spokesman told VOA at that time that Palmer “advised” the two party leaders “against the coordinated and massive resignations of lawmakers from parliament, as this would undermine reform efforts and would hurt an important institution of democracy” as well as reject and publicly condemn all violence.

Mr. Palmer’s meeting with Prime Minister Rama lasted about 90 minutes and it was Rama who later briefed on the topics of conversation through a Twitter post.

“Excellent bilateral relations, Albania’s European integration, Kosovo-Serbia dialogue and political situation in the country, in a fruitful conversation that found us in full agreement with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer,” wrote Rama listing the issue of domestic political developments at the end of the list of topics discussed with the US official, thus rejecting rumors that the purpose of the visit was an attempt to resolve the political crisis.

During an interview for the media on Tuesday, however, Palmer spoke about the deadlock, saying it encourages the opposition to seek ways to re-engage in the political process and participate in the upcoming local elections as the only solution to the deadlock.

“Albania has a government elected according to the rules, is a US partner with whom we work well and closely. Government institutions are functional, legitimate, Albania has no problem in making decisions, approving laws, and I trust that this government will lead the country towards a European future, will be able to continue to act in the fight against organized crime and corruption, the implementation of the judicial reform, the completion of the vetting that is important to give Albanians trust in the administration of justice,” Palmer said.

Basha, on his side, described his meeting with Palmer on Twitter as an open and constructive conversation on the situation: the lack of the constitutional and high courts, impunity, crime, corruption and the political crisis.

“Joint commitment to democracy, the rule of law and good governance as the only path to stability and Albania in the EU,” Basha wrote.

Meanwhile, Kryemadhi briefly said that she is not authorized to speak on the conversation they had with Palmer.

“Palmer expressed his own options from his point of view. We expressed our options from our point of view. Of course, they are in agreement with the US State Department’s report on combating corruption, seizing the state, all other problems, but it is very important to continue with the final settlement and end the Albanian transition. Albania belongs to the EU,” said Kryemadhi.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times April 10, 2019 07:30