President Ilir Meta has written to the European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Oliver Vahelyi with regards to the opening of EU accession negotiations with Albania, but also criticising the EU’s assessment of the establishment of the Constitutional Court.
On 2 March, the Commission published its findings on Albania’s progress over the past few months and it levied praise on the steps taken towards appointing judges to the court, and the vetting process in general.
Just hours after the report was published, thousands of Albanians protested in Tirana against the “coup d’etat” they allege is perpetrated by the Socialist Party government with the aim of exerting full control over Albania and its Constitution.
In his letter, Meta welcomed the commitment and efforts to support Albania’s EU integration process and stated he remains hopeful that member states will endorse the Commission’s recommendation to open negotiations.
“I remain with the best impressions from our meeting in Tirana and was indeed encouraged by your realism and eagerness to turn past failures into opportunities. Restoring the credibility of the enlargement process is not only a requirement of member states but also indispensable to genuine progress of candidate countries, including Albania.”
Meta then noted his “regret” over the “photography of facts” related to the establishment of the Constitutional Court and the “dispute” over the nomination of one of the judges “due to a differing interpretation of the appointment procedure by the President of the Republic”.
The President writes that there is indeed a dispute but places the blame for the differing interpretation on the Socialist Party majority “which seeks to capture also the Constitutional Court of the country, and further escalate the sui generis crisis in Albania.”
Meta included a number of provisions of the Constitution which support his claim which shows that “the first member to be replaced in the Constitutional Court shall be appointed by the President of the Republic”. He also highlighted provisions that related to the renewal of Constitutional Court judges that clearly state it must be done “according to sequence, respectively by the President of the Republic and by Parliament.”
“This is exactly what the President has abided to,” Meta said, adding this was also what the Venice Commission had recommended for the Constitutional juridical reform. He also advised them that he had published all documents relating to legal violations committed by the Chair of the Justice Appointment Council, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice Secretary-General, and the petition of criminal charges against everyone involved in the Special Prosecutors Office.
He also made the failure of EURALIUS to respond to official requests from his office, despite it being bound to assist all official authorities in legal matters relating to EU reforms.
Meta asked the Commission to keep the best interests of the Albanian people at heart and not to support the “further erosion of democracy and rule of law” that would lead to the escalation of the “current crisis and encourage depopulation of Albania.”
He closed the letter, stating that he intends to continue defending the full integrity of the Constitutional Court as the only hope for accountability, checks and balances in the face of the current political situation.