From: Alice Taylor
Assembly to Consult with Journalists over Controversial Parliamentary Access Ban

The Albanian assembly has invited journalists to discuss the decision to ban them from the assembly hall.

They will meet this morning to discuss with the Secretary-General of the Assembly Genci Gjoncaj.

The Presidency of the Assembly decided that media employees should no longer be present at the meetings of parliamentary committees, but follow them from a separate room through an audio-video system. Journalists claimed they were not consulted during the decision-making process.

They then protested outside parliament. This sparked a reaction from the Assembly who said that the European Delegation in Tirana had designed, funded, and approved the system, therefore suggesting the ban had EU approval.

EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca reacted to the statement’s claims, stating that the new rules are not within EU guidelines.

“These rules are not in response to EU guidelines or advice provided under the auspices of IPA, launched in this context in 2014,” he wrote.

He added that attending such events without restrictions is an important part of democracy.

“Public hearings and media access to Parliament to cover the work of its sessions and committees are important elements of a liberal democracy,” he added.

French Ambassador Elisabeth Barsacq also commented in support of the EUD in Tirana.

She retweeted the EU’s reaction and expressed regret for the decision taken.

“Let us uphold the freedom of the press, it is the basis of all other freedoms, through which we enlighten ourselves mutually.”

DP representative Albana Vokshi spoke of her support for journalists and called for the assembly to withdraw the decision.

“The illegal, unconstitutional, and undemocratic decisions that prevent journalists from doing their job in the Assembly must be reversed,” she said.

Vokshi added that “restricting media freedom in a country that is hoping to open negotiations with the EU is as unacceptable as vote theft.”