Albania’s PM endorses President Erdogan in upcoming Turkish elections, raising concerns at home over breaking protocol 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 10, 2023 10:43

Albania’s PM endorses President Erdogan in upcoming Turkish elections, raising concerns at home over breaking protocol 

TIRANA, May 9, 2023 - Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has released a video in which he addresses the Turkish people ahead of the May 14 presidential elections, voicing support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is running for reelection in a tightly contested race.

Speaking in Albanian with Turkish subtitles, Rama asks Turkish voters to seek continuity considering Türkiye’s indispensable role in the fragile balances of a difficult period for the Balkans and all of Europe.

"It is undoubtedly the duty of the citizens of the Republic of Türkiye to choose the leader and government they want. No one can and knows how to do this better than them. But, in respect of each and every one of them, I want to express the highest consideration for President Erdogan, whose vision, courage, will and hard work turned Türkiye into an example of a fantastic transformation," Rama says in the video

-Erdogan helped Albania in its hour of need, Rama says-

Rama also reminds viewers of President Erdogan’s role in assisting after “the tragedy of the earthquake in Albania, when Türkiye supported hundreds of affected Albanian families by building new houses.” He also refers to Turkish assistance in “providing vaccines against the deadly virus” when others "were too busy with their problems." 

"President Erdogan is not only a good friend in days of need, but also a very special political leader, because he does what he says," Rama says, adding a reelection of the Turkish incumbent would have a stabilizing effect in uncertain times.

Rama and Erdogan meet often and have a long-standing personal relationship as well as being the two countries’ longest-serving leaders in recent history with Erdogan in power for two decades and Rama reaching his first decade. 

-Critics say endorsement could hurt relations with Türkiye-

Albania and Türkiye have had a strong and strategic partnership since communism fell in Albania, regardless of political leadership changes, however. 

That partnership is placed in jeopardy by interference of the type offered by Rama’s endorsement, according to Albania’s former prime minister Sali Berisha, who leads the largest section of Albania’s opposition.

"I am here today to denounce the scandalous intervention of Edi Rama in the electoral campaign of our friendly country, Türkiye … in flagrant violation of the country's and international laws,” Berisha said, adding Turkish voters should vote for whomever they believe will make their country better. 

Beyond the reaction of the politician opposition, independent commentators were also puzzled by the intervention. 

“This intervention does not make sense not simply because it is unnecessary, but above all because it is wrong. The elections in Türkiye are the most important ever held there. The race is quite equal. And in the meantime, you come to ask a completely innocent question: ‘What if Erdogan loses?’ How will Rama face those who will take over the leadership of Türkiye?" - asks Mustafa Nano, a media analyst.  

-Endorsement is part of a trend-

This is not the first time Prime Minister Rama weighs in on foreign elections, being criticized for breaking diplomatic protocol in doing so. 

Rama recently issued a similar video during the presidential election in Montenegro and has made strong media comments on elections in Greece too. More famously, Rama went on CNN to call President Donald Trump a “threat to the United States” ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. 

Türkiye’s May 14 election is increasingly looking like a tight race between Erdogan and his main challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who represents a united group of diverse opposition parties. The latest opinion polls show that the latter is marginally ahead. The two are likely to go to a second round of voting if one candidate doesn’t meet the needed threshold, as per Türkiye’s elections rules.


Tirana Times
By Tirana Times May 10, 2023 10:43