TIRANA, Albania, May 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --
Following the opposition Democratic Party's rejection of a European Union-proposed solution to the party's disagreements with the Socialist Party Government, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama today confirmed that parliamentary elections will proceed on June 18 as required by the nation's constitution.
The announcement followed talks involving David McAllister, Chairman of the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, and Knut Fleckenstein, the EP's Standing Rapporteur on Albania, and by subsequent interventions by Parliamentary Speaker Ilir Meta and President Bujar Nishani. On behalf of the Government, Mr. Rama agreed to discuss all the suggestions, including a short postponement of the elections, insisting only that the EU-mandated programme of vetting judges, prosecutors and other justice system officials be voted on in the current Parliament.
"As prime minister, I can say we did everything possible to solve the crisis brought upon us by the DP," Mr. Rama said. "We came with our hands open, prepared to compromise and we offered to do so, probably more than we should have. But there was no one from the other side to talk to. Just empty rhetoric, fear of vetting and fear of elections. The DP is lost and confused, and nothing or no one can save it."
The prime minister noted that a total of 46 parties of all stripes had registered to seek election, including several whose leaders had allied themselves with the Democratic Party in the past. In recent days, the US and German ambassadors have both urged that the June 18 vote proceed as scheduled, with or without the Democratic Party, Mr. Rama said. He said the June election will be one of the most closely monitored ever, including by a wide variety of accredited international observers.
"Today it is time to move on, to lift our heads and look forward to the future," Mr. Rama said. "On 18 June Albania will hold elections which will be internationally monitored, free and fair. Whoever wants to compete can do so, and the people will make their judgment. This is how democracy works.
"SP will run in these elections to ensure that Albania continues on the right path to the future. We will fight for new jobs just as we currently are fighting for justice. We will push for reforms and the completion of the EU negotiations process. We will not allow anyone to endanger our future. Everyone is free to express their free will, but violence and chaos will not be permitted. The future of Albania depends on its stability and we will take any necessary measures to ensure we continue going forward and not fall backward."
Mr. Rama praised Mr. McAllister and Mr. Fleckenstein for their mediation efforts. "It was a valuable attempt to cut through the rhetoric and find common ground," the prime minister said.
"It was an example of political bipartisanship from which Mr. Basha could have taken lessons had he chosen to. Mr. McAllister and Mr. Fleckenstein, members of opposing political parties, demonstrated the kind of political maturity we in Albania need to emulate and which our citizens yearn for. That is what awaits us after the coming election, when we hope to begin our negotiations for accession to the European Union."
SOURCE Government of Albania