Saturday, June 19, 2010

Albania Leaders Exchange Barbs over Failed Talks

Tirana | 18 June 2010 |
Albania's assembly
Albania's assembly
Albania’s political leaders blamed each other on Thursday for the failure of EU-sponsored talks aimed at resolving the country's political crisis.

Speaking during the parliamentary session Prime Minister Sali Berisha accused the opposition Socialist Party of having a covert plan to boycott the upcoming 2011 local elections, rather than seek transparency over parliamentary elections held last June.

“Since the request was filed that was against the verdicts of the court I have had the conviction that it has the goal to boycott the local elections and do anything to stop Albania’s integration into the EU,” said Berisha.

Reacting to Berisha’s accusations, the head of the Socialist parliamentary group, Gramoz Ruci, said that the talks to resolve the crisis had failed because the ruling majority had not offered its consensus for a compromise.

“You don’t want to resolve this crisis,” he accused Berisha.

Top members of the European Parliament, who sponsored the talks, yesterday expressed regret that the two main political parties in Albania have been unable to solve their political stalemate, and warned that the country risks stalling its EU bid if it does not find a solution.

“We sincerely regret that the Albanian Government and the opposition could not overcome their differences and have therefore not yet been able to take further necessary steps towards meeting the country's European ambition,” MEPs Joseph Daul and Martin Schulz said in a joint statement.

Daul is the president of the centre-right EPP grouping, and Schulz is the president of the centre-left S&D grouping in the European Parliament.

The two men, on behalf of their political groups, initiated talks between Berisha and opposition leader Edi Rama to help the country find a solution to the political dispute between the two main parties following the Albanian general elections on June 28, 2009.

Berisha, who heads the ruling Democratic Party, and Socialist Party leader Rama have been locked in a standoff over the results of the June 28, 2009 parliamentary elections, which Berisha's party narrowly won.

The Socialists blame alleged electoral fraud by the government for their loss and have sought a recount of election ballots. The government has stubbornly refused the recount as unconstitutional, arguing that it is a decision for the courts to take.

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