The US Embassy in Tirana has urged “disputing parties” in the latest crisis around appointments to the Constitutional Court to take the issue to the Venice Commission and to abide by their legal opinion.
“In the absence of an appropriate Albanian legal institution that could rule on the diverging interpretations, the United States supports referring the question to the Venice Commission as a competent, neutral third party for its legal opinion. We further encourage disputing parties to abide by the Venice Commission’s legal opinion.”
The US Embassy’s statement does not clarify who they mean by “disputing parties”.
The latest constitutional and institutional crisis in Albania came after several appointments to the Constitutional Court made by the President and the Parliament. Both institutions, as well as the Justice Appointments Council (KED) now accuse each other of unconstitutional and illegitimate actions.
According to the Constitution art. 179(2), the President, Parliament and High Court appoint Constitutional Court members by rotation.
“The first member to be replaced in the Constitutional Court shall be appointed by the President of the Republic, the second shall be elected by the Assembly and the third shall be appointed by the High Court. This shall be the order for all future appointments after the entry into force of this law.”
In brief, the president appointed his first member and waited for their turn to appoint a second one. However, the KED argued that president’s 30-day deadline to elect a second member had passed and Arta Vorpsi was automatically appointed to the Constitutional Court. Immediately after, the Parliament elected two members in the same session. (Here is a detailed description of events.)
President Ilir Meta has stated earlier that there is no need for an opinion by the Venice Commission and that the Constitutional Court was “the red line” no one should pass:
“There is no need for interpretation [of the Constitution] by [an] international [institution]. The Venice [Commission] has made it clear in the Constitution how the Constitutional Court is formed. It is in the constitution. These [suggestion to ask for their interpretation] are games they do at the service and request of Edi Rama.”
The president’s spokesperson Tedi Blushi went on Facebook shortly after the US Embassy’s statement, writing that the suggestion to take the matter to the Venice Commission was first made few days ago by an ambassador, at Rama’s order. He added that:
“[This suggestion] is the latest shameful act of the structured diplomatic group of Tirana, who are complicit in the systematic violation of the justice reform, aim at its full capture by the Rama monist regime. Enough with the “Rule of Embassy”. It’s time for the “Rule of Law” as in any democratic country.”