7 June 2019 Interview of President Meta to Deutsche Welle Albanian: The Bundestag, clear willingness to help the overcoming of crisis in Albania.
Deutsche Welle: Mr. President, you are currently in Berlin. What was the purpose of your visit to Germany?
President Meta: I had the pleasure to participate in the Berlin international meeting, organized by the German parliament. I also had the pleasure to address the audience and deliver some important messages. In addition, i used this opportunity to hold a number of meetings with representatives of main parliamentary groups here in the Bundestag, responsible for foreign policy of their fractions, given the fact that Albania is in a very important moment, in which we aspire and want to open accession negotiations as soon as possible, within this month if possible.
Deutsche Welle: At this very important moment for Albania, the country is in a stalemate in its domestic politics. Have the German interlocutors of the political parties, with whom you met today in Berlin, expressed their positions?
President Meta: I want to emphasize the importance that all representatives of the parliamentary fractions I met, such as the CDU / CSU or the SPD and other groups, are positive in terms of support to accession negotiations for Albania. Certainly, the political situation in Albania is non-favorable, but it is important that they genuinely demonstrated their willingness to help in overcome this stalemate and give their contribution to establishing a political dialogue as quickly as possible, so that Albania can catch up with this important historical moment for its future. Not only for Albania, but I also believe, it serves the future of the European Union and of our entire region in the EU.
Deutsche Welle: Within a week or the time span of ten days, there has been an intense account of visits by the leading politicians from Albania, from the majority and the opposition. Does Germany have a concept to support Albanian politics, in finding a way out of the current crisis?
President Meta: I believe there is a genuine willingness. It is important for us, both for Albania and for the main political forces -the majority and the opposition, – to reflect urgently and not to miss this historic moment for our country and our citizens, who regardless of party affiliation and political conviction, are eagerly awaiting positive news.
Deutsche Welle: Two days before your visit to Berlin, the biggest boulevard newspaper in Germany, “Bild”, published the prosecution interceptions protocols, which caused a series of reactions in the Albanian media and Albanian politics as well. The key word of all these articles is corruption, which stands at the heart of the opposition accusations and protests. Was this also one of the topics in conversations you held in Berlin?
President Meta: This was not a topic of my discussions, with regard to what is reflected in certain media in Germany. Instead the focus was the determined commitment to fulfill all expectations with regards to the rule of law; second, the extraordinary importance of the democratic elections’ standards in Albania; and undoubtedly the punishment of all responsible or suspected individuals for the violation and the undermining of the integrity of the elections in the past. These have also been the previous messages given consistently by the representatives of certain groups in the Bundestag.
Deutsche Welle: When you return tomorrow to Tirana, that is on Saturday, the opposition will hold its eighth nationwide protest in Albania against the government, with its absolute request of which it does not withdraw, the resignation of the prime minister, seeking months after months early elections, but at the same time paralyzing the parliamentary life in the country. Has it not the president waited too long without reacting with a concrete invitation for dialogue between the parties? In order for the solution to be found domestically and not with the support from Berlin, or somewhere else in the world?
President Meta: Perhaps by coincidence, on the day the opposition made official its decision to relinquish their mandates, I was in Berlin to meet German President Steinmeier, and gave an interview for Deutsche Welle. Unfortunately my invitation, my appeal, was not heard from any of sides. I appealed to the opposition to withdraw from such an act, not to formalize this decision, but also to the majority to take two steps back in order to avoid further escalation of divisions and of a wider institutional and representation crisis in the country.
But nevertheless, it is never too late. I have continuously promoted the establishment of dialogue, but unfortunately both sides have set some conditions that have made it impossible for a table of talks or an official meeting, because Prime Minister and Socialist Party leader Rama, as published from the media last night, clearly refused to review the date with upon agreement between the two sides to guarantee all-inclusive democratic elections. Likewise, Mr. Basha and other representatives of the opposition have set as a prerequisite for Mr. Rama not to be in such a table as prime minister of the country.
Nonetheless, my efforts will be tireless, as well as any contribution from our partners for the resumption of dialogue and trust is not only welcomed but also indispensable.
Deutsche Welle: Can local elections be held in such a situation, while the date of the elections is determined by you in accordance with the constitution. Is it possible to postpone the date of the elections, within the constitutional framework?
President Meta: I would not wish to express myself today on this issue. We are aware of past experiences in our country, when the will and accountability for the country’s stability, democracy and European future, have always enabled wise solutions. And in this regard I will not stop committing the institution of the president and my personal efforts until the end, in order to avoid any alternative that does not serve the stability of the country and bring to invisible horizons the possibility of opening the accession negotiations of Albania with the European Union.
I believe that both sides have the duty to respond to the will of all Albanian citizens, which is in extraordinary numbers over 90%, to give Albania this historical opportunity of opening soon the negotiations with the European Union. I believe, that if this willingness from both sides will be reflected in the hours and the days to come, the support from the Bundestag will be complete and this will be very important for the successful accomplishment of this major goal for our country.
Secondly, I wish to emphasize that it is very important for the opposition, given that another major national protest has been announced tomorrow, as you mentioned, to self-restrain and and have a peaceful demonstration, so that their cause for real European-standard elections enjoys full support inside and outside the country.
Therefore, once again I appeal to the opposition leaders to take all the responsibilities in guaranteeing a manifestation of European standards, not to be provoked by anyone within their supporters or those affront, at these hours and days of major importance for our country.
Deutsche Welle: Mr. President, we have such a situation in Albania: Apart from the crisis in domestic politics, we also have the legal vacuum. The legal system is almost dysfunctional, without the Constitutional Court, without the High Council of Justice and the problem with the High Court. Can the president give an advice in this regard, can this vacuum be solved? Because, how could it be possible to claim entry into the European Union, when a legal system is currently out of function in Albania!
President Meta: I want to assure you and all the Deutsche Welle’s followers that the president has made all efforts to avoid such a situation in Albania, for justice reform to progress at higher speed, and at the same time to not have such a vacuum. However, I would not wish to comment on that today.
The most important issue is that Albania has already began this major reform. Certainly, it requires a consolidation of its implementation and a growing credibility that this reform delivers in terms of rule of law, in the fight against organized crime and corruption, and all must recommit for its full success. Because its success is linked to all the key priorities, not only for the opening of the negotiations, but also of the continuation of our path toward EU membership.
Deutsche Welle: While a positive recommendation is given from the Commission to open negotiations within the Conservative Union in Germany, one of the EU’s promoter countries, meanwhile June is considered too soon to give a green light to the negotiations with Albania. Have you received any hopeful message from Berlin in this regard?
President Meta: I am a realist in politics, and having a relatively long experience on the European integration issue due to former state positions I have held, I believe that every hour won at this moment, every day won at this moment counts in demonstrating the maturity of the political class, of the majority and of the opposition. This would absolutely bring the opening of negotiations for Albania closer, including for our neighbor North Macedonia. That is why these hours, these days are decisive.