From: Bledar Qalliu
Internationals Urge Albanian Parties to Sit in Talks Following Majority Changes in Constitution

Ambassadors and rapporteurs on Albania in parliaments in Europe have called on the opposition to continue talks with the majority, despite the latter’s one-sided changes in the constitution.

On Thursday, the parliament approved constitutional changes to partially open party candidate lists and change coalition rules a few months before the elections.

In a press statement, Democratic Party (PD) leader Lulzim Basha said that the changes violate the Constitution and the June 5 agreement between the parties, facilitated by the US and EU.

In their statements today, the ambassadors stressed that the June 5 agreement resulted in positive electoral reform amendments that fulfilled one of the 15 conditions for Albania to sit in EU accession talks. They urged both sides to continue in the same spirit of collaboration following the Socialist Party’s decision to adopt unilateral changes to the country’s constitution on Thursday.

None of the ambassadors clarified whether today’s amendments violate the June 5 agreement facilitated by them, which has been the opposition’s repeated claim.

The US Embassy reminded the majority of their promise to engage in talks with the opposition after the latest one-sided constitutional changes.

EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca stated that constitutional changes were unfortunate, but Albania has now met the EU condition for electoral reform. He added that the two sides should now discuss how to best implement the constitutional changes through new legislation regarding electoral lists and pre-electoral coalitions.     

German Ambassador Peter Zingraf expressed regret at how “the successful reform of the electoral law has again started to take on conflict due to the constitutional changes.” He said the opposition has “legitimate claims to further inclusive dialogue.” The ambassador urged for collaboration in the Political Council, and reminded the government that electoral reform remains one of the EU and Bundestag conditions for EU accession talks.

British Ambassador Norman Duncan also called for inclusive talks.

The CDU rapporteur on Albania in the German parliament, Florian Hahn congratulated the parliament on adopting the June 5 agreement, and called for similar inclusive work between the majority and opposition.

Isabel Santo, the European Parliament rapporteur for Albania straightforwardly applauded the constitutional changes, and stressed the importance of future collaboration. 

While the Albanian opposition vowed not to recognize the constitutional changes, it remains unclear how they plan to achieve this amidst the pressure to sit in more talks and find consensual ways to implement the majority’s unilateral changes to the constitution.