From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
EU Statement Ignores Presidential Decree, Abandons Rule of Law

The EU Delegation in Tirana has released a statement on social media signed by the EEAS, DG Neighborhood and Enlargement, and European Commission, giving full support to the Rama government for local elections on June 30.

Statement by the European Union Delegation to Albania

Albanian citizens must be able to exercise their right to vote in an orderly and peaceful manner. In view of the vote that will take place on 30 June 2019, it is therefore essential that citizens exercising their rights can do so in an orderly fashion. It is the direct responsibility of all political actors to make sure that the voting operations are not obstructed.

The demonstration which took place in Tirana on 21 June 2019 was peaceful, and the same democratic principles and values need to be upheld this weekend. Any violent act or any form of incitement to violence are absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances. All political sides need to show restraint and avoid inflammatory rhetoric. The voting process will be monitored by an international mission led by OSCE/ODIHR involving observers from several European Union Member States.

All sides should engage in a genuine dialogue as soon as possible to overcome the current political situation in order to focus their efforts on sustaining and consolidating the progress made by Albania so far in the reform process on its EU integration path.

Some will point out that the statement has used the word “vote” rather than “elections,” as if that would in any way weaken Prime Minister Edi Rama’s position. This distinction must be dismissed as semantic nitpicking. We should accept this statement at face value: it is a partisan gesture against President Ilir Meta and a sign that any form of diplomatic non-interference in Albanian internal affairs has been abandoned, the European Union has thus given its full support to the Rama government, which in recent days has arrested dozens of opposition members and waged a massive intimidation campaign. Holding the elections on Sunday will return Albania de facto back to its pre-1991 situation as one-party state, courtesy of the EU.

The European Union has remained completely silent on any of these serious violations of the fundamental human right to free and fair elections and ignores the fact that President Ilir Meta has decreed new elections for October 13. In doing so, the European Union has chosen to abandon the rule of law, a principle it frequently, and hypocritically, claims to hold dear. The entire EU Delegation in Tirana, including EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca, has thus shown itself it to be an untrustworthy partner of any Albanian government, present or future.

Indeed Albania has been in a deep constitutional crisis since President Ilir Meta decreed the cancellation of his decree to set the local election date on June 30. But it is equally true that only the Constitutional Court will be able to pass a final verdict on that decree, not Parliament, not the Electoral College. Even though it does not exist – counter to any of the “expectations” the EU might have had with the Justice Reform – it is still the highest court in Albania.

Today, I am ashamed to be a citizen of the EU; ashamed of the European Commission, which on its way out of the door after a humiliating defeat at the European Parliamentary Elections, intervenes with such tactlessness in an explosive situation that could tear Albania apart. This crisis will endure, no matter the “elections” on Sunday, and the European Union will have lost its status as credible mediator. As such, it has shot itself in the foot with a bazooka. Pathetic.