From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Another German MP Calls Out Albanian Government on Election Fraud

Christian Schmidt MP for the German CDU/CSU and Rapporteur for Albania has said he believes that “investigations on election fraud have to be carried out” before negotiations can start for EU accession.

In an interview given this week, he stated that there also needed to be a “visible” commitment in fighting organised crime as well as the eradication of corruption through independent institutions.

In addition to this, he was clear that the current “political confrontation” between the Rama administration and the Opposition parties needs to be settled and that “parliamentary structures should work and represent the different democratic positions”, suggesting that they do not at the moment.

When asked if he believed that the political boycott instigated by the opposition was the right thing to do, he answered that “a democratic system can only work with a functioning opposition that has been granted fundamental rights.”

He also called for respect for the constitution and dedication to democracy within the country.

In terms of whether Germany backs Albania opening negotiations in June, he declined to offer a yes or no answer, instead stating he will wait for the European Commission to publish its progress report before making a decision. He added that “whether this will happen in June, or some months later has not been decided.”

Just yesterday, Schmidt’s colleague Johann Wadephul described the current situation in Albania as a “dangerous political crisis”, adding that his party would not be able to support the opening of negotiations if the issue of vote buying is not addressed.

“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 said in an interview.

Earlier this week, the British Ambassador Duncan Norman stated that he believes it is important that all parties take place in the election, and that the elections are democratic.

He described the situation as “delicate” and added that the “fight against organised crime concerns us all”. He called for dialogue between the opposition and the government but emphasised that “it is important to be democratic”.