27 May 2020 Interview of President Meta for “Albanian Daily News”
What is the purpose of your Platform?
President Meta: With the announcement of the state of natural disaster, all local political actors demonstrated a responsible behavior and a new spirit of cooperation, in the service of the highest interest of the citizens and country.
Under this spirit, I organized two meetings of the National Security Council, where despite the differing views, the sense of responsibility prevailed.
On March 23, 2020, during a work meeting with the US Ambassador, we discussed how we can further build on this spirit, especially in the context for the opening as soon as possible of the EU membership negotiations as soon as possible, when the presentation of the negotiations framework for Albania and North Macedonia and the progress reports for each country were expected in June.
We agreed that the implementation of the key priorities, according to the responsibilities of each actor and in a spirit of cooperation are the only way to move forward.
During this meeting, I promised the Ambassador that I would soon send to her a project-platform, which could serve as a starting point for a structured and step-by-step dialogue until a consolidated document would be formed agreed by all parties, with concrete and measurable commitments for each institutional actor.
On April 8, this project-platform was sent to the Ambassador, as we had agreed.
Does this Platform violate the Justice Reform?
President Meta: Anyone who reads this draft-platform can clearly see that there are only three basic references: the 15 conditions of the European Union, the implementation of the Constitution and the laws in force, and the orientation according to the recommendations given by the draft Opinion of the Venice Commission dated 6 March. 2020, requested by the Albanian Assembly.
Neither the EU, nor the Constitution, nor the Venice Commission violate the justice reform, but rather they urge, encourage and demand its most rigorous implementation.
As the EU and the Venice Commission recommend for several times already, as contained in the spirit of the Constitution, and as I have tirelessly reiterated repeatedly, the constitutional implementation of the justice reform must maintain the spirit of consensus in order to avoid its capture by the ruling political force.
We all know that currently the only comprehensive dialogue is taking place within the framework of the Political Council for the Electoral Reform, set up with the support also of the EU. One of the proposals of the draft-platform was that any initiative or request for legal changes that might be considered necessary by the parties, as proposed by some exponents of the majority, be discussed in this comprehensive format model, before being approved in the mono-party Parliament.
Thus, basically it could be ensured the non-violation of the Justice Reform, contrary to what your question suggests.
Is this Platform still valid?
President Meta: This platform is in the service and benefit of the fulfillment of the 15 conditions by the EU.
While the conditions for the European integration are in place, and time is running out, it is undoubtedly even more valuable, necessary, urgent and timely. Unfortunately, it appears that the interest, especially on the part of the Prime Minister, in fulfilling the conditions of the European integration is not what it should be, as any fulfilled condition requires the Prime Minister to take steps back from the territories he has invaded in justice, media, and other directions.
Will you still be committed on this issue?
President Meta: I think that my efforts and willingness to unite the parties into a responsible and effective comprehensive process received a very brutal response on the morning of May 17th.
That morning, not only the Albanian people but also the entire democratic world was shocked, because not only the Theater was illegally destroyed but also every hope that this government can respect the principles of the rule of law.
Moreover, not only my appeals for waiting the adjudication of the Constitutional Court but also those of the European Commission and many other responsible partners were rejected.
However, I urge the parties to see the possibility of restoring a trust or cooperation in this regard. Although it is clear that the fever of the election campaign has begun and the European integration seems to have been lost also as a rhetoric in their priority.
What was the essence of the message by the foreign diplomat?
President Meta: This message is being published after 7 months, precisely because it is more current than ever and serves as an alarm bell for everyone.
It points out that it was necessary as an act of sovereignty, transparency, but also a warning, for any actor who is responsible for the serious failures of the Justice Reform and who attempts to share this failure with the only responsible actor, with integrity, super- cooperating, who warned of these consequences of the unilateral and in obscurity implementation of the Justice Reform, who is the President of the Republic.
The message aims to show the incompetence of the international experts who in this case did not support the position of the President but the position of Mr. Dvorani, thus, of Prime Minister Rama, in clear violation of the Constitution to snatch from the President a constitutional competence that belonged only to him.
The President had sent to all the embassies of the European Union and the United States since November 5 the official letter addressed to the Speaker of the Assembly, Gramoz Ruci, the Chair of the Justice Appointments Council, Ardian Dvorani, and the Ombudsman, in which he clearly warned for an institutional clash to be avoided and sought cooperation to respect the Constitution. each according to the order.
The President did not receive any official response from the Speaker of the Assembly, nor from the Chair of the Justice Appointments Council, who was warned that he was violating the Constitution and the law, but on November 8, on a Saturday, surprisingly, the pro-government media declared Arta Vorpsi a member of the Constitutional Court in the Official Gazette in the most illegal and scandalous way.
Again, the President did not give up his cooperative efforts also with the international community in Tirana, inviting some of its key representatives to the meeting on November 9 in the evening, which was attended also by the Ombudsman who shared the same concerns as the President.
The President again explained the situation and asked them to intervene since he had not received any reaction from the Speaker of the Assembly to ask the other party to respect the Constitution and explained that Arta Vorpsi’s announcement was completely illegal, and not only that, but also that the President could not accept her oath as this was a violation of the Constitution.
Therefore, in order not to further violate the integrity of the Justice Reform and the construction of the Constitutional Court, the President assured them that as soon as the Assembly elected its first, the President would immediately elect his second, in order to preserve the constitutional order and that the legitimacy of this process not be damaged.
The President also promised the diplomats that in the early hours of the morning he would make such a statement guaranteeing that he would express himself immediately within 24 hours on this issue so that Assembly could meet its deadline to make its appointments. Meanwhile, the next morning, while the President once again made a very constructive public appeal to the Assembly for co-operation, he received that message on behalf of the US representatives and the EU office, which everyone has already seen.
This message clearly shows that the international experts had become one on this issue with Dvorani and the majority, and this was unfortunately confirmed in continuation with their not at all transparent stances regarding the law brought by the majority for the oaths-taking of the members of the Constitutional Court. Under the pretense that the majority had the support of the US and the EU, i.e. Euralius and Opdat. A draft-law that contradicts the Constitution of the Republic of Albania, very clearly and for which the Venice Commission was also called.
Even before these developments, I have warned the representatives of the US and the EU Office in Tirana that their experts should not work one-sidedly only with the government and the majority and should not often serve as certifiers of violations of the Constitution or the consensual laws for the Reform.
I hope that the publication of this message with which some representatives here in Tirana have long been informed, for six or seven months, will serve to draw lessons and bring out the implementation of the reform from darkness and one-sidedness into the light, in transparency, in order to rein this free fall of the citizens’ trust in the new institutions of justice.
What will be your role regarding the Justice Reform?
President Meta: Determined and committed as on July 22, 2016 when as the Speaker of the Assembly I reached the only and historic consensus approved by 140 votes.
Only this achievement enabled Albania to receive a recommendation for the opening of negotiations with the EU, unconditionally, in October 2016.
Only its implementation in this spirit will guarantee the rapid opening of the membership negotiations.
For the justice reform I will always do what I preach, and I will preach only what I do: Respecting the Constitution.