Venice Commission sides with President Meta in latest opinion

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 30, 2020 17:09

Venice Commission sides with President Meta in latest opinion

TIRANA, May 30 - The Venice Commission has deemed President Ilir Meta's position regarding the appointment of Constitutional Judges in line with the Constitution while at the same time opposing the Justice Appointment Council's (KED) stance on the matter.

In its draft opinion finalized on Friday, the Venice Commission states that the President's decision is not unreasonable given the lack of clarity of the procedures and special circumstances created for the appointment of the second candidate of the Constitutional Court .

"Moreover, if the President had elected two candidates, the Assembly would have had a list of less than three candidates minimally required by the Constitution. Reservations due to this perspective do not seem unjustified, "the Venice Commission writes, adding that "regardless of which interpretation was correct, the two designating bodies should have met and reached a common position before proceeding. "

The draft opinion also backs the President's refusal of the KED decision to automatically appoint Arta Vorpsi.

"While such a suspension is not provided by law, it was a reaction to a situation of legal uncertainty, which could not be resolved in the absence of the Constitutional Court. The suspension showed that the President still wanted to exercise the power of appointment he enjoys under the Constitution and this was confirmed by his appointment as a candidate immediately after the election of the Parliamentary candidate," the Venice Commision states, reiterating that the President's decision was once again reasonable.

In reference to Vorpsi's attempt to take the oath before a notary instead of before the President the Venice Commission states that "it is clear that taking the oath before the President is a precondition for taking up office.”

In their conclusions, the VC points out the problematic situation in Albania, stating that the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court are not yet fully operational. According to the experts, "the constitutional crisis in Albania is not caused by a specific act, but is a consequence of the interaction of several factors." The VC suggests that the "necessary vetting procedure has had broader effects than originally envisaged" as the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court have become dysfunctional due to "the all-inclusive verification procedure", adding that "the problems in the implementation of unclear (constitutional) provisions have been exacerbated by the fact that there is no Constitutional Court and the fact that the procedure has become the subject of a war between Parliament and the President. ”

Furthermore, the Vencime Commission recommends that the President and the Parliament should agree on the appointment procedure, which the KED must be comply with. In case this does not happen, the VC warns that "one or more of the nominating bodies will risk not being able to make a choice between the three candidates, as required by the Constitution. Once the Constitutional Court is set up, it must deal with this issue. In this situation, until an agreement is reached or the Constitutional Court has not ruled, the KED must send the lists to the Assembly, once the President has proceeded with his / her appointment, or after 30 days if he / she does not manage to do so without reason. "

The draft - opinion emphasizes the role of KED in its recommendations, demanding that “the People's Advocate exercise his constitutional right to participate as an observer for the sake of transparency and trust of the public in the procedures of verification and selection of candidates. ”

Finally, the VC calls for an "absolute need for dialogue and loyal cooperation between state institutions," adding that "the mandate and competencies of state institutions must be respected, so that they meet their legitimate institutional objectives, always seeking the best benefit for the citizens of Albania."

The appointments

The clash between the parties began after Meta decided not to appoint one of the candidates for the vacancy to be filled by the Head of State, arguing that he had already filled a vacancy and it was up to Parliament to proceed with electing a candidate from the lists. 

According to the majority, Meta failed to abide by the 30-day deadline set by the law, and as a result, the top-ranked candidate Arta Vorpsi was automatically named. 

The parliament followed with the election of two candidates, while Meta subsequently decreed from his list Marsida Xhaferllari who was invited to take the oath, along with the two candidates elected by parliament.

Meta spoke about an attempt by the majority to take over his powers and launched a fierce battle against the Chairman of the Justice Appointments Council, Ardian Dvorani, whom he described as the cause of the created situation and a man who had worked on behalf of the ruling majority.

All of this, as well as the further decision of the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, set up to dismiss Meta as president, to expand the scope of his work, not only on the occasion of the decree canceling the June 30 elections, but also on the appointments to the Constitutional Court constitute the first part of the more than 40-page petition Meta filed with the Venice Commission.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 30, 2020 17:09