As always, “at the last minute”, Tirana and Brussels set in motion about the boycott of the opposition

As always, “at the last minute”, Tirana and Brussels set in motion about the boycott of the opposition

IBNA Special Report

Tirana, December 8, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

This is how it has always happened. The opposition party, sometimes the left, sometimes the right wing, has announced institutional boycott.

For nearly two decades and a half of democracy, this has always been the case. The boycott of 2009 was longer. At that time, the left in opposition didn’t recognize the elections and it only entered parliament a little before the last deadline of the expiry of mandates ran out.

And like always, international diplomats, mainly from the European Union have intervened in such situations.

We have noticed that in all cases, their intervention has been at the “last minute”. Even this time, it seems to be the case.

There are a few days remaining in order to decide about the destiny of the opposition MPs.

Since the month of July, the right wing has boycotted parliament, by announcing a suspension of relations with the highest state institutions. The opposition says that it will put an end to boycott only if an agreement overseen by international community, is approved with the majority.

A few weeks ago, EPP, European People’s Parties, which now controls the European Parliament, adopted a resolution which criticizes the left wing government and backs the demands of the Albanian opposition, including the overseen agreement. The resolution adopted in Brussels also requires from the EU to monitor the developments in Albania.

Meeting of the EP-Albania Stabilization and Association 8th Committee is canceled

Meanwhile, the meeting between the European Parliament and Albania, which was scheduled to take place in mid December in Strasbourg, has been postponed to Spring 2015. The European Parliament Conference of Presidents has rejected the demand of the Albanian side for the meeting to be held on 15 and 16 December.

Even for next year, there’s not a set date for the holding of the EP-Albania Stabilization 8th Committee.

The focus of the preparative meeting for the EP-Albania 8th Committee was the parliamentary boycott and the December 18 parliamentary session has a special importance because of the concern that inactive opposition MPs may lose their mandates.

Brussels says that the postponement of the 8th Committee has come as a result of the fact that the Albanian delegation has demanded for the meeting to be held at the start of next week.

But, European Parliament had programmed this meeting to be held on 17 and 18 December.

The Albanian side has notified that it could not be present in Strasbourg due to the “important voting” which will take place in the last parliamentary session.

This is the third time that Tirana postpones inter parliamentary meetings.

A record was achieved in the 6th Committee of October 2013, held one year later, although SAA (in power since 2009), obliges the holding of two annual meetings to discuss the political, economic-social developments and the level of adaption to European practices.

Rama goes to Brussels-EP brings negotiators in Tirana

In all this, the first intensive movements are happening just before the end.

December 18, which will decide if the opposition will return to parliament or not, is coming. Tirana is expected to be visited these days by Knut Fleckenstein and Eduard Kukan.

Flekenstein is the new rapporteur on Albania in the European Parliament, while Kukan is the envoy of the European People’s Parties for our country.

Their mission relates to the solution of the political situation in Albania, before the opposition mandates in parliament run out.

The solution is expected to come from the European Parliament, while the joint political steps of the opposition have been discussed with the democrat leader, Lulzim Basha.

On the other hand, the head of the Albanian government has been invited by Friends of Europe for the annual activity organized on the Balkan and according to his agenda, there will be meetings with rapporteurs and heads of EPP and EP.

After the cancellation of the 8th Committee between the EP and Albania, which was going to focus on the absence of the DP in parliament and in the cancellation of the December inter parliamentary meeting, MEPs are expected to use this visit in order to talk about the demands of the opposition.

Sources from Brussels say that given the cancellation of the December meeting and insufficient contacts between political parties and the new EP representatives that deal with Albania, MEPs are expected to use the visit that PM Edi Rama has planned in Brussels, to talk to him about a possible solution to the boycott of the opposition.

Rama’s agenda includes meetings with rapporteurs and heads of the European People’s Party and European Parliament.

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These intensified political efforts come after the European People’s Party adopted on November 18 a resolution on Albania, where it expressed its “full support for the political action of the Democratic Party and demanded to the European Commission to closely monitor the worrying developments in Albania”.

The European People’s Party is the largest political formation in the European Union and it has the largest parliamentary group in the European Parliament. Within its ranks, it has leaders of the most influential EU countries, such as chancellor Merkel, head of the European Commission, head of the European Council and the new Enlargement Commissioner.

Mediu: We expect the solution to come from the EP

Republicans say that in order to secure the presence of the opposition in parliament, the solution is expected to come from the European Parliament. The leader of the Republican Party, Fatmir Mediu says that along with the Democrat leader, Lulzim Basha, they have discussed on the joint political steps of the opposition.

“There’s a growing concern by the international community and there’s also a rapid engagement on their side to solve this political crisis which exists in Albania. When I talk about the international community, I refer to instances of the European Parliament”, says Mediu.

Former minister in Berisha’s governments, Mediu says that there’s an engagement of the European MPs, who want this political situation in Albania to come to an end and for parliament to function within the constitutional framework”.

But, next week until 18 December, are expected to be the last days for the boycott to come to an end, as the six month period which follows the expiration of the mandates, is approaching. If this happens, for the first time in these 24 years, we become a parliament without opposition. In order to avoid this, next week is filled with negotiations between Tirana and Brussels. Mr. Mediu comments these last minute diplomatic efforts.

“It’s not an issue of mandates, but parliamentarism. We must solve the problem of the normal functioning of the parliament of Albania, because it doesn’t have to do with names, but the role of opposition, majority and compliance with the Constitution”, Mediu says.

But when is the opposition expected to return to parliament?

“Of course, this is a moment that will come, a moment which will be discussed with the international community, which will become part of this engagement and based on this, we will then come up with joint decisions”, says the Republican, Mediu. /ibna/