From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
CDU’s Wadephul: No Launch of Negotiations Prior to Addressing Vote Buying And Rule of Law

German MP Johann Wadephul has described the current situation in Albania as a “dangerous political crisis” and stated that his political party will not be able to agree to the opening of accession negotiations if the issue of vote buying is not addressed.

In an interview given to ‘Shekulli’, Wadephul said that the Rama government needs to make some “real compromises” in order to overcome the crisis. He drew attention to the fact that interception records have proven that votes were bought in the 2017 elections, and called for the arrest of those involved.

“Albanian law prohibits vote buying. Nevertheless, there is no prosecution by the public prosecutors’ office and no arrests against those persons who have been proven to have bought votes by means of interception records. If there is not real progress here very soon, my group will not be able to agree to the opening of accession negotiations.”

He also called on the government and the opposition to be prepared to approach each other and make compromises. Adding that failure to so do could “encourage third power to interfere even more in Albanian affairs” which could lead to new conflicts and unrest.

“To say it bluntly, Greater Albania plans will be the end of Albania’s EU perspective!”

Wadephul continued that there is still “significant progress” to be made in the fight against corruption in order to meet the conditions for opening of accession negotiations, particularly the “implementation of laws”.

The examples of vote buying and the failure to initiate legal action against those involved, despite it being against Albanian law is a “fundamental issue of the rule of law” and must be agreed upon before his CDU/CSU party will support Albanian joining the EU.

He expressed his belief that a land swap between Kosovo and Serbia is the “worst option for the stability of the Western Balkans” and that the only way to achieve stability is through legally binding agreement to normalise relations.

Yesterday, Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj stated he believes that Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic have discussed the exchange of territories between Kosovo and Serbia.

“There is a grounded suspicion that President Hashim Thaçi, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and Serbia’s President Alexandar Vučić have altogether discussed the exchange of territories under the leadership of High Representative Federica Mogherini. This suspicion is there, albeit that I can’t confirm it,” he said in a statement.

Haradinaj is a staunch opponent to any plan to exchange.

In terms of EU accession, a number of EU politicians have said they are not prepared to support the accession negotiations opening this year. Despite this and the fact that Albania is grossly unprepared to even consider such talks, EU Head of Delegation Luigi Soreca has continued with his vocal support.

In an interview this week, he praised the justice reform, quoting statistics that claim the Albanian people believe it is going in the right direction, a stark contradiction to statistics obtained by the independent Albanian Helsinki Committee.

He also stated that 93% of Albanians want to join the EU, a number which has been deemed to not be particularly accurate. It is unclear why the EU delegation in Tirana is so keen to support the Rama administration in spite of the ongoing political, constitutional, and judicial crisis in the country.