From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Clash of President Meta & Internationals Is Rooted in Failed Justice Reform

Yesterday, President Ilir Meta started a frontal attack on several representatives of the international community in Tirana, starting with OSCE Ambassador Bernd Borchardt. President Meta declared Ambassador Borchardt non grata at the Presidency.

In the evening, President Meta further attacked EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca and other foreign ambassadors, accusing of being “responsible” for the failure of the justice reform:

Rama and the ambassadors are responsible for the failure of the justice reform. So far 200 million euro have been spent and they have failed. They say that it’s a success, but that Meta blocks it. They are coresponsible. They stay together. If you see their telephone, they all stay together.

I don’t have the power to corrupt the ambassadors because I am the President of the Republic. I will now be direct because we’ve cuddled them a lot. I will be direct with every international vagabond.

These attacks may be superficial, or even crude, but they point to a deep underlying problem, namely the failure of the justice reform. The justice reform was supposed to create a justice system independent of politics and reinforce the rule of law in Albania. On both counts it has produced no results.

Although the legal framework in place to elect a new Constitutional Court is complicated, the steps to be taken are clear. Facilitated by the Justice Appointments Council (KED), members of the Constitutional Court are elected by means of rotation, following the order of President, Parliament, and High Court. Neither the Constitution, nor the interpretations of the Constitution provided during the parliamentary hearing preceding the 2016 amendments, says anything about skipping the High Court, or allowing an institution to elect several members at the same time.

There was also no need to do so; the KED is already in the process of establishing the High Court, and once that has been established, a well-balanced Constitutional Court can be easily elected, facilitated by the KED. Instead, the KED forced President and Parliament to violate the Constitution, by sending out multiple candidate lists with large overlaps, deliberately constraining their choice. No minutes have been made available on the website of the High Court that show why the KED chose this course of action.

The reason the Constitutional Court members were elected in violation of the Constitution was not because the law was unclear or the process stuck, but because of political pressure and influence, which are precisely the things the justice reform should have protected the judiciary from. So simply the fact that this pressure of the European Commission and the government was successful, shows that the judiciary is not independent from politics and the rule of law is weak, and thus that the justice reform has already failed on a fundamental level.

The pressure from the side of the government of Prime Minister Edi Rama has as one of its origins the demands placed on Albania by the German Bundestag, while the European Delegation in Tirana wants to finish the main part of the reform before December 1, when the new European Commission will be installed. The new Commission, led by the German Von der Leyen, will no doubt take very different positions on EU integration, and mean a reshuffle of people within the Enlargement DG and the European External Action Service. This may possibly lead to an approach to the justice reform that is not in line with the desires of the currently involved EU bureaucrats. So of course, they want to be done as soon as possible.

Therefore, the motivations of both the Albanian government and the European Delegation/Commission are political in nature, and are not related to the quality of the justice reform. And because both the government and the internationals have brought political pressure openly into play, they have given President Meta the stick he needed to beat them. Unfortunately, they no longer have any credible defense, because their own actions showed very clearly the primacy of political will over rule of law.