By Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
International Intervention Has Undermined the Rule of Law US Ambassador Donald Lu and EU Ambassador Romana Vlahutin.

From the looks of it, the negotiations between the PS and PD have finally, and one hopes for everyone’s sanity definitively, collapsed. I don’t say this because I don’t want a political “solution.” I say this because the negotiation process itself is doing enormous damage to what is left of the rule of law in Albania.

All of this should have been clear from the beginning. Neither Rama nor Basha have a strong incentive to agree to a compromise, at least in the form as presented by McAllister.

On the one hand, Rama is about to win an absolute, if not constitutional majority in Parliament, and he will do so with the blessing of the EU (thank you Johannes Hahn) and the US (thank you Hoyt Brian Yee). There will be no need for him to commit massive voter fraud, intimidation, or other vote rigging tactics. Even if the LSI doubles in size, he will be able to govern to country as a de facto autocrat.

Basha, on the other hand, has no infrastructure, no political program, few volunteers, and significantly less funding than the PS. Even if the elections were postponed four weeks or four months, the Electoral Code amended, and a PD nominee put in charge of overseeing the elections, his party would suffer a massive defeat. With PD leadership elections coming up in July, his political career would basically be over. The only thing that would be acceptable to him is deposing Rama as Prime Minister, and hoping that the PS will tear itself apart from the inside, with a dozen Brutuses ready to stab Rama in the back. Accepting anything less amounts to political suicide.

But the stubborn insistence of the internationals, half-heartedly siding with Prime Minister Edi Rama, who, just to be perfectly clear about this, oversaw the complete cannibization of the country, installed criminals in Parliament and as Mayors, and should under no circumstances be thought of as a “credible” and “stable” partner for the EU or the US, has caused even more damage than Albanian politicians have been able to cause on their own.

We already knew that Albanian politicians have little regard for the rule of law. Now we know that the internationals don’t care much about it either.

The Electoral Code of Albania, for better or for worse, contains a number of legally mandated deadlines. Once date of the elections has been set by the President, the rest of the procedure is clearly laid out by the law. This law has been voted, democratically, by Parliament. This law contains no articles dealing with negotiations. If you want to participate in the elections, fine. If you want to boycott them, fine too.

The entire negotiation process, fueled and fanned by the desire of the internationals from the US and the EU – Vlahutin, Lu, Borchardt, Yee, McAllister, Fleckenstein – to indulge Albanian politicians, has created a situation of legal uncertainty and instability that in the long term is much more damaging to the elections than the opposition’s boycott. By engaging the idiotic whims of Basha, Rama, and Meta, they have shown the Albanian population that power is more important than the law, that stability is more important than freedom, and that compromise is more desirable than fairness (not to politicians, but to citizens).

For many times, the internationals have called upon the opposition “to return to Parliament.” These calls are legitimate, but that’s all they should have done. Instead, they have shown the Albanian people that the foundations of the rule of law – legal deadlines and conditions – can be “negotiated” outside of Parliament and with that they have damaged the belief in democracy and the rule of law in Albania more than either Basha or Rama has managed to do.

Rather than being the guardians of democracy and rule of law, the different international missions to Tirana have shown that they are willing to negotiate with criminals, that they are willing to prefer one criminal above the other for the sake of their own narrow interests, and that Albanian law means nothing once they take a seat at the table.