Thursday

30th Jun 2022

Albania killings cast shadow over country's EU aspirations

  • Tirana: Since the fall of Communism 20 years ago, Albania has never held elections fully meeting international standards (Photo: lassi.kurkijarvi)

The EU has warned Albanian politicians to refrain from violence after three anti-government protesters were shot in front of the Prime Minister's office on Friday (21 January) in clashes with police. More demonstrations are due this week.

"We urgently appeal to all political forces to call for calm and refrain from provocation," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele said in a joint statement, deploring the loss of life and the violence in the Albanian capital, Tirana.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"In order for Albania to progress on its European path, we once again urge Albanian politicians to engage in a constructive political dialogue to resolve without any further delay the long-standing political stalemate and to mobilise the countries energies to this end."

The Albanian opposition, led by Socialist Party chairman Edi Rama, who is also the mayor of Tirana, has called for fresh protests against the government this Friday, one week after the clashes that saw three killed and dozens wounded in front of the premier's office.

"We shall continue our struggle in a determined way, because the way out is clear - either a free Albania for all, or keep the people subdued under the boot of barbaric power," Mr Rama said at the funeral for one of the dead protesters.

For its part, the ruling Democratic Party of Prime Minister Sali Berisha has also announced a rally "against violence" on Wednesday.

The political stand-off dates back to the 2009 elections, which have not been recognised by the opposition. They claim the poll was rigged in favour of Mr Berisha. Since the fall of its Communist regime in 1991, Albania has not yet managed to hold elections fully meeting international standards.

A Nato member and an EU aspirant, Albania - one of the poorest countries in Europe - has seen member states reject its EU application, filed last year, until the political deadlock ends.

Despite mediation attempts from Western diplomats, there is no reconciliation of the two sides on the horizon, with Mr Rama calling on the "corrupt" government to resign and Mr Berisha accusing him of attempting a "Tunisian-style" coup.

"[The opposition] are the real authors of this ugly crime. Yesterday's anti-constitutional act bears your name and you will face all the consequences," Mr Berisha said at the weekend.

Arrest warrants have been issued for six guards suspected of shooting the protesters, but prosecutors said on Sunday that police have not yet arrested the men.

During the clashes with riot police, thousands of demonstrators set cars on fire and threw stones at government buildings, calling for the resignation of the government after deputy premier Ilir Meta, a key ally of Mr Berisha, quit his job last week over corruption allegations.

Local elections are due on 8 May, but the next general elections are not scheduled until 2013.

Opinion

The protracted death of democratic Albania

How have Albania been allowed to deteriorate so far? The answer lies primarily with the country’s politicians, in particular Prime Minister Sali Berisha and opposition leader Edi Rama, who together have done more to destroy their country’s progress than any other post-Communist leaders in Europe, argues Dimitar Bechev.

News in Brief

  1. New president for European Committee of the Regions
  2. Gas flows from Spain to Morocco, after Western Sahara row
  3. BioNTech, Pfizer test 'universal' coronavirus vaccine
  4. UK sanctions second-richest Russian businessman
  5. Hungary permits emergency supervision of energy firms
  6. Bulgaria expels 70 alleged Russian spies
  7. EU Commission told to improve CAP data analytics
  8. Scotland pushes for second independence vote in 2023

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  2. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  4. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBHow price increases affect construction workers
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic think tank examines influence of tech giants

Latest News

  1. Nato expands and reinforces on Russian flank
  2. EU Commission says it cannot find messages with Pfizer CEO
  3. EU ministers sign off on climate laws amid German infighting
  4. EU presidency still looking for asylum relocation pledges
  5. Finland and Sweden to join Nato, as Erdoğan drops veto
  6. The euro — who's next?
  7. One rubicon after another
  8. Green crime-fighting boss urgently required, key MEP says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us