Judiciary reform, USA-EU “crucify” the leader of the Albanian opposition

Judiciary reform, USA-EU “crucify” the leader of the Albanian opposition

Tirana, 14 July 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Edison Kurani

The Albanian opposition has entered a vicious circle following its stance against the direct involvement of the international community in overseeing judges and prosecutors.

When the reform in justice started, the opposition led by Lulzim Basha insisted on the involvement of the international community in this important process for Albania. But the request was for foreigners to monitor the process.

Meanwhile, the majority of Prime Minister Edi Rama insists on a central role of the international community in what is known as a vetting process in the institutions of justice.

Rama’s request was not  supported strongly by the main ally in the majority, speaker of Parliament, Ilir Meta.

Meanwhile, in the recent days, it is being strongly contested by the opposition.

The main card it is playing relates to a threat being imposed on the sovereignty of the country. The opposition says that it is illegal to issue constitutional powers to USA and EU. The stance of the DP comes at a time when the majority introduced in the draft of the reform in justice, the option whereby the vetting will be done by Albanians and foreigners appointed by USA-EU. For this, a necessary constitutional amendment was drafted.

Democratic leader, Basha explains why there mustn’t be an executive role by the international community: “It’s not that the DP doesn’t trust the international community, because we were the ones to seek their presence and the ones who said that there will not be a vote without an International Monitoring Operation. But no constitutional powers, because if something doesn’t go well or goes terribly bad, where will the Albanian citizen point his finger? On the Prime Minister of Finland or that of Switzerland? There cannot be constitutional powers without constitutional accountability. And here, the Venice Commission is very clear: monitoring and the Democratic Party is very clear, a more robust monitoring, but no alibis or deviations where the project of the reform in justice can clash with Edi Rama’s interests”, Mr. Basha says.

According to the opposition, the reason why the government plan strongly supported by the USA and EU must be rejected, is clear. It has another strong card: “There cannot be constitutional powers without constitutional accountability”. Therefore it demands from the international community to have a monitoring role, not a decision making role.

USA-EU launch direct criticism against opposition

In an unprecedented way, as it has never happened so openly in so many years, international diplomacy lifted the diplomatic veil in the case of the refusal by the opposition of the decision making role of foreigners in the process of vetting in the judiciary system.

Rapporteur for Albania in the European Parliament, Knut Fleckenstein said that he doesn’t understand Lulzim Basha and DP’s behavior in relation to the reform in justice.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t understand them”, he said.

Meanwhile, EU Delegation to Albania issued a statement where it openly expresses its disappointment from the opposition:

“We regret that the leadership of Democratic Party has rejected the compromise proposal.

The credibility of the judicial reform overall depends on the credibility of the vetting of judges and prosecutors. To guarantee this, a limited targeted role of the international community through the International Monitoring Operation is crucial”, says the EU Delegation to Albania.

According to the delegation, “this is fully in line with the Venice Commission Opinion that envisages this role for the International Monitoring Operation”.

“The current compromise proposal reflects our clear position that the international community should provide strong monitoring to ensure the credibility of the process, including in the pre-vetting of the members of the vetting bodies, by providing negative recommendations as appropriate. The International Community has never suggested having any executive power since it is essential for the Albanian authorities to keep full ownership”, continues the EU positioning.

Meanwhile, the EU announced fresh talks between Tirana and EU through

the European External Action Service’s Deputy Secretary-General Helga Schmid during her visit to Albania.

Disappointed by the opposition and its leader, Basha was also the US ambassador, Donald Lu.

The reaction followed the DP’s proposal to exempt from the vetting process the international community and to suggest candidates proposed by the majority and opposition for the ad-hoc commission.

Mr. Lu said that he was disappointed as Basha proposed something which consists of a conflict of interest, without issuing other details.

“We are disappointed with Basha’s response. We proposed a bona-fide solution for the reform in justice. Basha himself admitted that the proposal consists of a conflict of interest. Basha’s proposal is in conflict with the Venice Commission”.

USA-EU stances provoke an internal debate within DP

The meeting of the parliamentary group of the Democratic Party has been accompanied with debates between MPs and leader of DP, Lulzim Basha.

Former PM Sali Berisha is determined on this argument:

“The international community must be present in the process of the reform in justice based only on the recommendation of the Venice Commission, as monitors and never as decision makers”.

Former minister if Integration and current DP lawmaker, Majlinda Bregu says that the opposition is risking on bearing political costs and suffer negative consequences among voters: “We have been labeled as “We don’t want the reform”. What is happening with this party? This is the question. Do we have a problem with the international community or Edi Rama?” Bregu asks. She stresses the fact that it was the DP that demanded the role of the International Monitoring Operation and adds: “We cannot bear the cost of the lack of coherence that we are manifesting”.

Meanwhile, she addresses a question for leader Basha: “In this kind of spiral that we have entered, tell us: What happens if the reform in justice is not voted?”

Meanwhile, the other democrat MP, Astrit Patozi is even more concrete in predicting the consequences: “We were the ones to ask the involvement of the international community as a guarantee. Now we are changing our stance. Our political behavior will have a cost, which is not determined by us, but by the people and the international community”. /balkaneu.com/