From: Bledar Qalliu
US May Not Engage with Berisha If He Takes Charge of Opposition Party, Implies US Ambassador

The United States may not engage with Sali Berisha if he assumes charge of the opposition Democratic Party because of his designation by the US Secretary of State. 

On Wednesday, US Amassador Yuri Kim gave an interview with Albania’s Top Channel, which aired shortly before Berisha advanced his initiative to topple Basha and be elected as leader of the PD for the third time.

Asked by journalist Anila Hoxha on the US administration’s potential relationship with the PD if Berisha assumes charge, Kim did not mention him specifically, but gave a general reply, stating:

“We will not be engaging with anybody who is designated by the Secretary of State. That’s a worldwide policy and it has nothing to do with individuals, but as a general matter of policy, we cannot imagine a scenario in which me or any of my successors is going to be pretending that everything is okay and that we just go and have coffee with somebody who is designated by the Secretary of State for significant corruption. It’s not going to happen.”

Kim stressed that the designation by the US State Department is not political, but rather based on a years-long, evidence-based process, and fully relies on facts. She clarified that of the four people barred entry into the US, only Sali Berisha is from the opposition Democratic Party. 

The rest are former general prosecutor Adriatik Llalla, former Socialist Durres Mayor Vangjush Dako, and former Social-Democratic Party leader Tom Doshi.

“Will there be more designations? Let’s see, I believe that there will be, and we will continue to call out those who engage in corruption, those who undermine democracy, and this country, which we consider a close friend,” Kim stated.

The ambassador added that the US recognizes Lulzim Basha as the duly elected head of the party and will continue to do so.

In her interview, Kim stressed the need for completion of the justice reform in Albania, praised the work of new justice institutions, and promised more engagement in Albania by the US administration and businesses.