Prime Minister Rama stated today that he is open to dialogue with the opposition, but that he is not going to accept its political demands.
Albania’s opposition parties left the parliament in February, and since then they have been staging national protests.
The opposition demands Rama’s resignation and a transitional government to administer free and fair early elections. It alleges that the current government colluded with criminal groups in buying votes in the 2017 general elections, as was shown in prosecution wiretaps published by the Voice of America.
Another major demand of the opposition is for the government to stop hindering the justice system from investigating into vote buying. It also expects the transitional government to bring to justice politicians and criminals involved in vote buying.
In a press conference today, Rama stated that he was not going to resign and that opposition protests did not hurt the government. Instead, he said, they damage the country’s image, its economy and tourism. Rama added that:
The only part that does not change, and there is no chance it could be affected [by protests], is the government and governing majority. Everything else is affected and changes for the worse.
Rama denied that published wiretaps showed the government had bought votes in the last elections. He said that Socialist Party officials were being lynched by the media over the prosecution tapes.
Wiretaps are a major threat to truth and democracy when treated as food for political and media spectacles. […] Wiretaps do not constitute any kind of proof or reason for lynching people in public.
The Prime Minister said that postponing local election was not an option as it would go against the Constitution.
There will be no negotiations […] in the sense of a negotiation process related to June 30 [elections]. [That’s] Because we have no option to negotiate over the Constitution of Albania. […] The June 30th elections will take place on June 30.
Rama added that he was open for dialogue with the opposition:
As far as dialogue [with the opposition] is concerned, I do not need either Germans, Americans, French, English or Norwegians to sit down and dialogue.
I asked for [dialogue] even when there were no firecrackers and when the other party had less need for dialogue. The opposite party today needs the dialogue a lot, and the country needs dialogue […]
Regarding the electoral reform, Rama stated that each side had its own suggestions for improvement, which they should discuss:
They [opposition] have many issues regarding the electoral system, we have our ideas on how to have much better elections than those we’ve had so far. It’s time to discuss these issues.