The European People’s Party, the largest party in the European Parliament, has called on Albanian authorities to launch criminal proceedings into officials involved in vote buying.
In a statement regarding the conditions the Albanian government has to meet before starting EU accession talks, MEPs Andrey Kovatchev, EPP Group Vice-Chair, and Michael Gahler, EPP Group Spokesman on Foreign Affairs underlined the need for criminal charges to be raised against those who have bought votes in the past: “criminal proceedings must be launched over the allegations of vote buying in past elections”.
The largest party in the European Parliament recalled that “the European Council in March required Albania to clarify the lawfulness of the local elections of 30 June 2019,” as one of the two main conditions to start EU accession talks.
“The fact that local governments in Albania are run by a single party puts it at odds with the fundamental notion of a plural democracy,” they stated.
In 2019, Voice of America, BIRN and BILD revealed wiretaps of the Albanian prosecution showing Socialist party and Rama Government officials, including the Prime Minister, engaging in phone conversations on buying votes in general and local elections in Albania in 2016 and 2017. The progress of investigations into the Albanian Electiongate is not clear.
The EPP welcomed the electoral reform agreement and insisted that it must be implemented before the next elections, which “need to be free and fair” as they are “essential for democracy in Albania” and a one of the conditions starting EU accession negotiations.
They called on the Albanian government to repeal the laws censoring online media and freedom of expression.
“There are 15 conditions that Albania must meet to start the accession negotiations. Their fulfilment is not only a procedural act, but will serve first and foremost the Albanians. We will continue to call on the Albanian authorities to fulfil all 15 conditions and we will closely monitor developments,” EPP representatives warned on behalf of their party.