US warns of travel bans as constitutional crisis in #Albania worsens 

| June 10, 2019

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Palmer (pictured) has threatened Albania’s opposition leaders with US entry bans.

In the United States’ toughest wording yet, Palmer said: “Obstructing an electoral process potentially constitutes grounds for ineligibility for entering the United States.”

His comments come with the current uneasy situation in Albania turning into a full-scale constitutional crisis with President Ilir Meta’s attempt to cancel local elections  planned for later this month.

It is thought Albanian PM Edi Rama may now seek the president’s impeachment.

On Monday, local media reported Rama as saying that Meta had “written his fate as a president who has lost the right to stay in that office”.

The latest dramatic development comes after Palmer’s remarks to Top Channel TV in Albania just ahead of crunch municipal elections on 30 June.

On Friday, thousands of protestors took to the streets in Tirana, the Albanian capital, calling for the resignation of Albanian PM Edi Rama’s government and parliamentary elections. His cabinet is accused of corruption and organized crime, charges it denies.

In the interview, Palmer referred to recent protests, some of which have been marred by violence, saying: “The incitement of violence by anyone is an affront to the Albanian people that should be condemned by all.  We have made clear our opposition to violence as a political instrument.”

Noticeably, he went on to warn opposition leaders of the possible consequences unless they condemned the violence against Rama and his government.

During his two-day official visit in Tirana, the US official held meetings with Prime Minister Rama, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party Lulzim Basha and leader of the Socialist Movement for Integration Monika Kryemadhi on current political crisis in the country.

He told the TV channel: “Obstructing an electoral process potentially constitutes grounds for ineligibility for entering the United States.

“I will underscore the US commitment to using all tools available to support the fight against organized crime and corruption as well as to promote accountability, transparency, and good governance. That includes the use of certain visa sanctions authorities when appropriate.”

He urged opposition leaders, in particular Lulzim Basha and Monika Kryemadhi, to publicly condemn the violent acts of their supporters.

“I want to be very clear with Mr. Basha, Ms. Kryemadhi, and others in their parties, if there are acts of violence in future protests, we will consider them responsible. It has been clear in the past that when the leaders want the protests to be peaceful, they have been peaceful. Violent demonstrations are damaging Albania’s democratic reform efforts and the country’s prospects for moving forward on the EU path.”

The US official said that he did go to Albania to negotiate on solving the political crisis, adding that it belongs to the political class to negotiate among them.

During his visit in Tirana, the US official held meetings with Prime Minister Rama, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party Lulzim Basha and leader of the Socialist Movement for Integration Monika Kryemadhi on current political crisis in the country.

The US, he said, will have teams of  election observers both as part of the ODIHR mission and its own to observe the 30 June local elections. He encouraged the opposition to participate in the elections in order “to take its message to the people, to win positions in government, and then to use victory as the vehicle for delivering on its commitments and vision for the future”.

Palmer said: “It was the decision of opposition leaders, and their decision alone, not to register for the elections.  You cannot win an election you sit out. It is unfortunate that the opposition decided to walk out of parliament and refuses to participate in the elections.”

Turning to the current political crisis in Albania, he said the U.S. position remained unchanged, noting: “The burning of parliamentary mandates, the boycotting of elections, the violence we have seen in politically-organized rallies are fundamentally at odds with democratic practices. The opposition parties should look for a path to dialogue with the government about electoral reform.”

Any protests in Albania should be violence-free, he said, adding: “The United States respects citizens’ democratic right to demonstrate peacefully. Provoking physical altercations or using explosive devices as a means of protest, however, is not only undemocratic, it is unlawful.”

Albania has a duly elected and legitimate government, said Palmer adding that it was “unfortunate” that the opposition decided to walk out of parliament and refuses to participate in local elections.

“It is also unfortunate,” he went on, “the parties refuse to engage in dialogue without preconditions, which makes a resolution very difficult.  To the extent possible, we encourage all parties to seek a way to navigate an exit from this political impasse.”

The American was also asked if the US supports the opening accession negotiations between Albania and the EU.

On this, he said: “We fully support the European Commission’s recommendation to open accession talks with Albania, based on its fulfillment of the conditions set by the European Council last year.  We also agree with the Commission’s findings that Albania has made tangible progress in implementing justice reform and taking action against organized crime and corruption.”

He cautioned: “There is still much work to be done but it is important to recognize the reforms that Albania has made.  The final decision will be up to the European Council, but we fully support the opening of accession talks with Albania.

“No matter the decision this year, the United States remains committed to working with our Albanian and EU partners to ensure Albania’s successful EU integration. including our full support for the ongoing implementation of the legitimate and constitutional judicial reforms.”

Comments

Facebook comments

Tags: , , , ,

Category: A Frontpage, Albania, EU, US

Comments are closed.