Bundestag member Thorsten Frei, who is also CDU’s reporter for Albania, has stated his doubts regarding the Rama government’s special National Theater law and its accordance to EU legislation and the Albanian Constitution.
In an interview with Panorama, Frei stated that the lack of judges in the country makes the clarification of the Theater issue difficult. He also stressed that this issue will demonstrate how serious Prime Minister Edi Rama’s is about opening EU accession negotiations and respecting European laws.
During the interview, Frei also talked about Interior Minister Fatmir Xhafaj and his brother who was involved in international drug trafficking. According to Frei, in these circumstances, Xhafaj should not have remained in duty.
Below find some of Frei’s main talking points.
Regarding the National Theater special law:
[The National Theater special law] is very ambiguous when it come to how it fits with EU legislation and the Albanian Constitution. The way I see it, President [Ilir] Meta was right to send the law back to parliament.
It is hard to clear this issue up with no functional courts.
The case of the National Theater will show precisely how seriously Edi Rama takes EU accession.
Regarding Minister Xhafaj:
By German standards, he [Fatmir Xhafaj] perhaps wouldn’t have retained his position. Pressure from our very powerful civil society is always a deciding factor.
Regarding Albania’s accession negotiations with the EU:
Accession negotiations will not begin automatically next summer. The ruling [on whether accession negotiations would start] was postponed as a result of current shortcomings.
In our opinion, two large deficiencies arise. First, we want to see the completion of the vetting process for the country’s 57 main judges and prosecutors, that is, to see the highest courts of the land functioning anew. Second, the Electoral Reform must be completed and the local elections must be held under new electoral legislation.
I am certain that, only after these issues are resolved, the Bundestag and especially the CDU/CSU parliamentary group will recommend the government vote for opening accession negotiations.
Regarding the clashes between the government and the opposition:
The law ensures one of the few pieces of leverage the opposition holds. It is understandable that the Democratic Party (PD) and the Socialist Party for Integration (LSI) have certain demands regarding the passing of laws. It is up to and the responsibility of Prime Minister Rama and his government to reach a compromise, in order to usher in the necessary reforms and to make tangible progress in the road to accession.