IBNA Interview with Socialist Party MP, Xhemal Qefalia

IBNA Interview with Socialist Party MP, Xhemal Qefalia

The Albanian opposition’s decision to abandon its parliamentary mandates has aggravated the situation in the country even more. The opposition is demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister, the creation of an interim government and early parliamentary elections.

Prime Minister Edi Rama rejected the opposition’s demands and said that he will continue to lead the government even after the resignation of the opposition’s MPs. Thus, the country now seems to be in a vicious circle.

In this interview for IBNA, Socialist Party MP Xhemal Qefalia analyzes the latest developments in the country.

The opposition recently decided to resign from parliament. How do you see this decision?

My colleague MPs decided to take the wrong step and do something which was not well-thought-out. Perhaps this was decision which came in the heat of moment right after the opposition’s protest, but I’d like to stress that such thing is not acceptable in a democratic country. In a democratic society, parliament is the place where people’s problems are discussed and solved. People vote us to represent them in parliament. We have not seen such decision being taken in any other country. My colleagues’ action is not in the best interest of Albania and Albanians. And this is not the right moment for this.

Why is it not in the best interest of Albania and Albanians?

Because we’re expecting to open accession talks with the EU in June and such action really makes us look bad in the eyes of the international community. Nonetheless, given that Albania is advancing with the vetting process and the constitution of the new judicial institutions, I think that the judicial reform will have yielded its first results by June and this is a big step for the opening of the talks. This said, I’m confident that the European Commission will decide in favour of the opening of accession talks between Albania and EU.

Will the opposition’s action have an impact on the opening of negotiations?

I do think that it will have an impact, but on the other hand, I think that a solution will be found by then. The impact will not be decisive, because the government’s efforts speak for themselves and the international community has always supported this legitimate government which has come out of the popular vote. You can all see how the international community is reacting.

You said that the government has carried out several reforms which have been backed by the EU. Can you tell us what some of these reforms are?

First of all it’s the judicial reform. We’re all seeing its effects and the way this reform is moving forward. The constitution of SPAK and National Bureau of Investigation are the most important steps that the international community has asked our government to take. This specialized agency, which has been demanded by the US and EU, will investigate senior officials who are involved in corruption and the government has offered its full support for this. The second reform is the administrative reform and other reforms which are necessary for the country. A lot has been done by this government and I must say that this is the most efficient government that the country has seen after the overthrow of the communist regime.

How do you see the new changes taken place in the government?

These changes were made by the Prime Minister and they didn’t come as a result of the pressure being put by the opposition. These changes gave new momentum to the work of this government. The changes were welcomed and the results are being seen by everyone.

Do you think that the fact that the opposition has decided to continue its protests will lead to the decision to announce early elections?

I don’t think so, because the international community has also made it clear that the opposition’s place is in parliament. This government is legitimate, because it has been voted by the people. A government which is voted by the people must serve the full length of its term in office and there’s no reason why it should declare early elections. Otherwise, this would constitute a dangerous precedent, because it would allow every opposition in the years to come to ask for early elections. If this request is supported by the international community, then it will become a common practice in countries with fragile democracies. In democratic countries, governments which are voted by the people should serve the full length of the term in office. There’s no reason to announce early elections if this government is in the second year of its term in office and if it has the support of the people and the support of the international community.

However, the opposition says that it will continue to protest. What is your take on this?

Protests are a legitimate tool in a democracy. Everyone is entitled to protest for something that they consider unfair, but this has nothing to do with early elections. We’ve seen protests take place in France, Italy, Greece, Serbia… A democratic country cannot be imagined without protests. However, the political battle should also take place in parliament. /ibna/