Monday, September 5, 2011

Picture: AFP
Albanian opposition moves to end political stalemate
05 September 2011 FOCUS News Agency
Home / Southeast Europe and Balkans
Tirana. The Albanian opposition decided on Monday to end a months-long boycott of parliament which had pushed the country into political stalemate and blocked movement towards EU membership, AFP reported.
"The socialist opposition will be present in the Albanian parliament to take up its national responsibilities with regards to Albania's integration into the European Union," opposition Socialist leader Edi Rama told his party's deputies.
The move comes just over a month before the European Commission is due to give its assessment on Albania's demand for EU candidate status, on October 12
The opposition which has boycotted all votes that require an absolute majority in parliament has been under enormous pressure from Brussels to resume its participation in parliament.
With the assessment of the EU so close, observers say Rama does not want to be seen as the one blocking EU entry by continuing the political stalemate.
"We will be here to vote in laws that are necessary for the functioning of the real rule of law and to lead a strong fight against corruption that has not only taken the justice system hostage but also some sectors in the Albanian economy," said Rama.
The Balkan nation has been mired in political crisis since disputed June 2009 legislative elections.
The opposition has never recognised Prime Minister Sali Berisha's victory at the polls and demanded a recount amid allegations of fraud. It had been boycotting parliament on and off for two years.
Every Albanian election since the fall of communism in the early 1990s has been marred by accusations of fraud.
However the current political stalemate has threatened to hamper Albania's bid to get EU candidate statues by the end of the year. Tirana is due to vote on judicial reforms as well as a new media law that requires a three fifths majority in parliament, 84 votes in the 140-seat parliament.
Albania's request for EU candidate status was rejected last December. Instead, Brussels urged Tirana to step up its fight against corruption and also expressed concern about the political crisis.

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