Europe's center-right called on to mediate Albania politics

AP News
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Posted: Apr 15, 2017 12:10 PM

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania's governing left-wing coalition says it will ask Europe's center-right parties, of which the country's opposition is a member, to convince the opposition to sit down to talks and take part in Albania's parliamentary election.

Prime Minister Edi Rama of the main governing Socialist Party and Parliament Speaker Ilir Meta of the Socialist Movement for Integration on Saturday said they would ask for help from the European People's Party and European Union Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn.

Meta said after meeting with Rama that "an official commitment of a formal EPP representative would be the best way to start the dialogue soonest and unblock the situation."

Seven years ago, when the Socialists, then in opposition, were holding a similar protest, it was representatives from Europe's center-right and center-left groups and the enlargement commissioner who resolved the crisis after a long dinner in Strasbourg, France. In post-communist Albania, since 1990, the country's political parties always have resolved their crises with the intervention of the international community.

The Democratic Party-led opposition says they will boycott Albania's June 18 parliamentary election unless a caretaker government takes the country to the polls. They say the Cabinet will manipulate the vote with drug money, and have declined to negotiate. Since mid-February, its supporters have blocked the main boulevard in the capital, Tirana, with a tent in front of Rama's office.

Responding to the EPP's mediation effort, Lulzim Basha, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, said that was not the way to resolve the situation.

"There will be no election in Albania without a technical (caretaker) government," he said at the tent. "There won't be any other way."