Prime Minister Edi Rama has accused the European Commission of interfering in Albania’s elections to the benefit of the opposition and against his party.
On Tuesday, a few days before the start of the electoral campaign, Rama blasted Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, for “sticking [her] nose” into Albania’s elections.
Commissioner Gabriel participated in an online event on education in Albania five days ago, organized by Modul University of Vienna, where the opposition Democratic Party also presented their plan for reforms in education and research. The PD broadcast the recorded event today.
Rama took to Twitter to accuse the commissioner of interfering in elections, and demanded the European Commission to answer him publicly whether commissioners are allowed to interfere in other countries’ elections.
“Someone in Brussels should tell the commissioners, who waste their working hours paid for with taxes of the European peoples in electoral video chatter with Lulzim Basha, that this is called interference in the internal electoral campaign of an EU candidate country!
To my knowledge, the European Commission is not in the habit of sticking its nose into election campaigns, and I expect to learn it officially and publicly from Brussels, if I am wrong and maybe the commissioners really have the right to become a party when the people of Europe elect their governments!”
In a reaction for Euronews Albania, the European Commission refuted allegations of interference in Albania’s April 25 elections.
EC spokesperson Sonya Gospodinova told Euronews that today’s activity was a regional event on education and it had no relation to Albania’s electoral campaign.
“The Commission doesn’t comment on the comments of third parties. Please note that Commissioner Mariya Gabriel took part in the Education Roundtable on 18th of March at the invitation of the Modul University of Vienna, which organized the event. The Commissioner’s participation was limited to delivering a keynote speech,” said Gospodinova.
“The speech, which is published on the Commission’s website focused on recent and forthcoming European initiatives in the field of education and research that are relevant to the whole Western Balkans region, including Albania. The Commissioner did not make any party-political statement but delivered a speech on the topics falling in her portfolio,” she concluded.
Opposition leader Lulzim Basha wrote on Twitter that he was “surprised by Rama’s nervousness”, and promised to bring Albania closer to the European Union.