Berlin resolution: Agreement on normalization key to Serbia’s, Kosovo’s EU accession (Beta)
The German government published on April 30 conclusions from the summit of leaders of the West Balkans in Berlin, which state that the participants “stressed the importance of a final, legally binding agreement on the full normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina to stability in the region.” “This kind of agreement is of pivotal importance to Serbia’s and Kosovo’s road to Europe. They agreed that an agreement like this must be comprehensive, and also politically sustainable, and contribute to stability in the region,” the conclusions posted on the government’s website state. One of the conclusions was that “Serbia and Kosovo have agreed to speed up efforts to implement existing agreements and to again constructively join a dialog on normalizing relations with the EU’s mediation, for the purpose of reaching a comprehensive and final agreement.” The participants also confirmed their devotion to cooperating within the Berlin Process, whose key elements are “connectedness, economic cooperation, free trade, security cooperation, the exchange of youth and reconciliation.” “They agreed to enhance cooperation so as to curb radicalism and terrorism, the illegal trading of firearms and small caliber guns, and illegal migration,” according to the conclusions.
Vucic: My Kosovo solution idea failed; that will cost us dearly (Tanjug, Beta)
President Aleksandar Vucic said on Friday he regretted that his idea of establishing a final compromise boundary between Serbs and Albanians has failed. As he said, the idea failed because “our people thought differently, and that will cost us dearly in two to three decades.”
Vucic also announced today that he will meet with Italy’s Deputy PM Matteo Salvini on May 8, and then attend a military parade in Nis, southern Serbia, on May 10. After that he would meet with Serbs from Kosovo and Metohija and inform them about the outcome of the Berlin meeting on Kosovo, held on April 29.
Asked about the announced decision on Belgrade’s countermeasures to Pristina introducing taxes on goods from central Serbia, and about early parliamentary elections in Serbia, the president said that he was “thinking about this every day.” According to him, there was a fierce campaign against the possibility of a compromise through delineation – both by some abroad and at home – “because they wanted an independent Kosovo throughout its territory.” “All those who created an independent Kosovo, while there was talk about delineation pretended to be ignorant, because they did not want to say they are in favor of all of Kosovo independent from Serbia. Rada Trajkovic stands for that, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and everyone else” said Vucic. He said that he “does not advocate an independent Kosovo within those borders, but for establishing a final compromise boundary between Serbs and Albanians.” “My ideas have failed. This will dearly cost our nation, our country in 20-30 years. I’ll have no use of my personal consolation that somebody will say I had been far-sighted. I was not convincing enough, I failed to explain the real situation, that reality is more important than emotions” Vucic said. He said that all those who already recognized Kosovo and opposed delineation “played a deceitful game” – and that “a part of the domestic public, especially those who took part in the creation of an independent Kosovo, also worked on it.”
Vucic recalled that Pristina adopted its (unilateral) declaration of independence in 2008, and that those in power then (in Belgrade) “played stupid, helped them by seeking the opinion of the International Court of Justice, as well as by transferring (Kosovo) negotiations from the UN to the EU. As far as I’m concerned, it will be easier for me in the historic sense, because I will be remembered for magnificent roads, bridges, for doubling in a short time salaries and pensions, rather than nominally for how people can live better. And someone else will unfortunately have to be announcing difficult and bad news for Serbia in the future, and say who lied to our people, why Serbs accepted the lies of Haradinaj and Trajkovic rather than hear the truth” he said.
Vucic: For the safe future of our children, we need friends (Kurir)
It is important to become part of the EU, but more importantly, is first to survive, and then to secure a future for our children, and for that, we need friends, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in an article for Kurir. At the same time, President Vucic pointed out that there are opportunities that should not be missed, a meeting in Berlin, which is the determining point of whether next years will pass us in gigabytes or in myths – fast, or terribly slow. In development, or in quarrels and divisions. In understanding, or confusion. Part of the Balkans, apparently, did not understand this. Zvizdic, Haradinaj, Thaci, have underestimated Europe, Merkel and Macron.
“The visit to China has brought a lot of Serbia. By establishing and strengthening friendship with the most populous country in the world, and after the Forum, it became clear that closeness with China and the Chinese people is essential, and not declarative and formal, from the perspective of the political strategy and the possibility of accelerated economic progress. China is the world’s leading force in the field of artificial intelligence, industrial robotics and only America, today it can, somewhat, be accompanied by an accelerated rhythm of Chinese progress. Europe can hardly, in any way, reduce the backlog in modern technologies in relation to the Asian giant. For this reason, I consider that the positioning of Serbia as a reliable partner and a sincere friend of China is essential for the future of Serbia, but we must never make a mistake and underestimate the importance and role of Europe. Also, in Beijing we have further strengthened our relations and mutual trust with our Russian friends, and the position of President Vladimir Putin, as well as President Xi Jinping to Serbia and our people, is genuinely friendly.
Beijing brought us better news than those we hoped for, and that is why our preparations for Berlin were tough, and expectations were small. The atmosphere that was created in European countries, as well as in Balkans and in Serbia, was completely different from the atmosphere five years ago when the Berlin process began. From the atmosphere of hope and optimism for the future of the region, we have come to the stage of fear for the future and preserving peace. That’s why, and despite numerous criticisms, I believe that the call from Merkel and Macron was important and more than welcomed.
The two most important representatives of Europe have shown, in Berlin, how much they care, among other things, by not insisting on anything else, except on our own Balkan agreement. At one point, when Merkel, in the name of Germany and France, gave a certain offer to the Albanians, they asked, who guarantees it, the woman looked in their direction and wondered if the words of Germany and France were not enough?
For now, for no serious reason, Europe is at the moment, rejected, although none of us, the Balkan peoples, have anywhere else to be, except in it. The biggest European politicians have experienced that the smallest European politicians, especially those from Pristina, treat them with contempt and from the position of some imaginary force. Serbia did not participate in that. And, I’m saying this, although I know that it will not bring me a single political point. On the contrary. Nevertheless, I consider that, regardless of the growing strength of China and Russia, the enormous strength of America, we must understand that without the Germans and the French, Italians and other Europeans, we will not be able to solve any of our problems in the future.
It is important to become part of the European Union, but more importantly, first to survive, and then to secure a safe future for our children, regardless of all the formal frameworks in which we will be moving. None of us can do it alone, so we need our friends.”
Djuric: Berlin summit revealed “intentions of leaders and states” (Tanjug)
Marko Djuric on Thursday “thanked the organizers of the summit in Berlin on behalf of the ruling party (SNS) and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.” Speaking at a news conference in Belgrade, the head of the Serbian Government’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija said that Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel prepared the summit “in a very serious way, and gave the opportunity to Vucic to present Serbia’s position.”
“Thank you for the opportunity for Serbia and the president to present the position of Serbia. The result, what remains as an impression, is a pretty clear picture of what various people in the region want for us and what stance they intend to take on Serbia and her interests, and the rights and position of Serbs in the region” emphasized Djuric. He added that, unfortunately, there were few positive messages at the summit- “on the contrary, since the messages from Pristina and Tirana were virtually horrific, completely against dialogue and goals such as normalization of relations.”
“It’s much clearer after the Berlin summit what real intentions of individual leaders in the region and of individual countries are” said Djuric. He added, however, that “not everything was that dark” – as the behavior of Slovenia and Croatia was “fair,” as was that of Montenegro. Serbia led by Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic “very seriously and firmly and firmly represented our efforts and showed serious and responsible approach” said Djuric. “We did not quarrel with anyone, but our delegation did provide clear and direct answers to everybody’s attempts to present recent history in a fake light and show Serbia as the culprit for (Pristina’s taxes imposed on Serbian goods), and other things in the region” Djuric said. “We will continue to behave seriously and responsibly towards issues in the region and seriously prepare for future activities” said Djuric. He added that the Berlin summit was an opportunity for Serbia to present its views as well as to consider relations in the region, “and who thinks what.” “Serbia and President Aleksandar Vucic are grateful to Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron for organizing a summit where Serbia has had the opportunity to present its views, in an atmosphere that was at times difficult and complex thanks to the behavior of some countries and leaders of the countries in the region. There were attempts to present things the way they are not, but all this was met with clear, substantive and direct responses from President Vucic and Prime Minister Brnabic” said Djuric. He added that the summit was “a good opportunity.” The fact that not everyone acted equally responsibly is not the responsibility of the host and organizers, but it’s good that we had the opportunity to see what relations and circumstances are in the region, are and what kind of thing each has in mind for us” Djuric said.
Brnabic and Dacic: Berlin summit no replacement for Brussels dialog (Prva TV, RTS)
Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic assessed that the Berlin summit was not a replacement for the dialog between Belgrade and Pristina in Brussels. Brnabic told Prva TV that it was agreed for the next summit to be held in Paris. “Considering that there were no concrete results… to return to the negotiation table in Brussels, a possibility was provided for attempting once again in Paris, to give it some time” Brnabic stated. She said that the involvement and interest of Germany and France in the Belgrade-Pristina negotiations absolutely was important and that it could contribute to the resumption of the dialog. The prime minister said the Community of Serb Municipalities and the import fees had been discussed in Berlin, but that Pristina had not conceded to abolishing the import fees on goods from Serbia. She said that both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron fully realized that the fees were an anti-civilization act and in violation of the CEFTA and the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU, which Pristina has signed.
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said that a summit in Berlin was not the right forum for talks on relations between Belgrade and Pristina. Dacic told RTS that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron had scheduled the Berlin summit with good intentions to “exert additional pressure on Pristina to unblock the dialog,” but that Pristina “has someone’s support to be so obstinate.” Dacic said that it was “a mission impossible for Serbia to recognize Kosovo with that kind of unilateral attitude.”
Dacic: Pressure to be fiercer than ever in next two months (Tanjug, Beta)
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has warned that in the two months after the summit in Berlin, pressure on Serbia will be fiercer than ever before. “The Berlin summit did not bring a solution, but a step has been made, given that Germany and France insist on the unblocking of the dialogue and the resumption of talks between Belgrade and Pristina,” Dacic said in op-ed published by Srpski Telegraf, adding: “On the other hand, this does not mean that pressure on Belgrade will weaken. On the contrary, in the next two months it will be fiercer than ever before.”
According to him, the ground is being prepared to exert “total pressure on Serbia.” “By July, when a new summit in Paris should be held, Serbia and President Aleksandar Vucic will be under tremendous pressure. In all possible and impossible ways, they will try to break us, to weaken our position, to come to the point of Serbia losing everything, and Pristina gaining everything” Dacic points out. He also believes that the continuation of Serbia’s EU accession talks will be conditioned with the demand that Belgrade joins sanctions against Russia and renounces its partnership with China. “Under the slogan of concern for our citizens, they will try to close all the doors for us. However, they will not succeed! Not as long as Serbia has these authorities, that have friends in Moscow and Beijing, but also in Berlin, Paris, Washington, Brussels… Everyone could see in Beijing that we have friends, when President Vucic met with leaders of China and Russia, Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. Allow me to say that not everyone can do that” Dacic wrote.
He recalled that Serbian friends from Beijing and Moscow provide Belgrade with unreserved support when it comes to Kosovo. “That’s the wind at our backs, our guarantee that in the United Nations, no Haradinaj, Thaci, or Pacolli can break Serbia and the Serbs,” said the minister. He added that it is good to have meetings like the Berlin summit, because that reduces the possibility of incidents or attacks on Serbs (in Kosovo). “Serbia has a chance, but, as President Vucic said, we are facing a difficult time, many problems and a great struggle. We will succeed only if we are united around the most important national issues. Our friends’ assistance is welcome, but we are the ones to whom Serbian interests come first, and who fight for them” Dacic concluded.
Veselinovic: On Saturday after a protest walk, the formation of the “Free Zone” (Danas)
One of the founders of the Alliance for Serbia, Janko Veselinovic, announced the forming of the “free zone” is the consequence of the fact that “the authorities keep ignoring the demands of the people, who have been protesting for almost five months now” said Veselinovic. “Since the authorities keep refusing to discuss the conditions for free and fair elections, and for the free media, the opposition remains unified in the decision to continue to actively support the extensive civil protests. This is why the signatories of the Covenant with the People call on the citizens to attend the protest rally One out of the Five Million on Saturday, May 4, at 6 p.m., at the Terazije Fountain. The Free Zone will be formed on that same day, after the protest march,” Veselinovic stated.
The chairman of the opposition Alliance for Serbia, Bosko Obradovic, stated on April 30, that the anti-government protests on May 4 would enter a new phase of “civil disobedience” with the forming of a “free zone” in downtown Belgrade. “If the authorities reject dialog, then it is their choice that our talks and discussions continue in the streets,” Obradovic wrote in a statement. Obradovic announced that the May 4 protest would end with the forming of the “free zone” in front of one state institution, where daily demonstrations would take place from then on. That is “transition into a new phase of the protest -civil disobedience” Obradovic explained. By agreeing to talk to Kosovo leaders in Berlin, but refusing to talk to the opposition, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic “is introducing a dangerous social conflict and division that only dialog can bridge” Obradovic believes. Obradovic recollected that the opposition demanded “fair elections”, the conditions for which would be created by “regulating the situation in the RTS, RTV and the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media.” According to Obradovic, the opposition has proposed talks, but the “authorities keep responding with bullying and absence of democracy.”
Jeremic: No fair elections without international pressure on the regime (Danas, Balkan Info)
People’s Party president Vuk Jeremic said that elections in Serbia under “minimally fair and democratic conditions” would not be possible unless the international factor was included in some way in a dialog between the authorities and the opposition. “The street protests must continue, otherwise the regime will not agree to fair electoral conditions, nor will the international community be interested enough” said Jeremic said in an interview with the Balkan Info. Jeremic claimed that a lot of people in the international community had seen through Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic as “a liar” who does not deliver on his promises and as a man whose “pompous rhetoric and behavior on the wrong side of decency causes contempt among serious international collocutors.” “His position in the international space is shaky and we must continue to rock it, both inside in the form of protests and from the outside, because only when the internal situation and international circumstances coincide will we be able to reach changes,” Jeremic said. Jeremic stressed that only by acting in unison could the opposition create the conditions for a fair election.
“Street protests must continue, because the regime will not agree otherwise to ensure fair election conditions, nor will the international community be interested in engaging in a constructive manner” Jeremic said in an interview with Balkan Info, adding that leaders Opposition should send unequivocal messages to the public.
Belgrade won’t be Maidan or Caracas; people may show unhappiness with opposition (Beta, N1)
Commenting on Serbia’s opposition announcement of daily talks with people, Serbian Progressive Party official Marko Djuric, said on Thursday Belgrade would not be “either Maidan of Caracas” the Beta news agency reported. Understanding that as a new way of protest, and alluding to the unrest in Ukraine in 2014 when the then president was removed in the demonstration, and in Venezuela this week where the opposition rallied daily in an attempt to dethrone the authorities, Djuric said that in Serbia the power would not be snatched in the street. Djuric, told reporters at the SNS headquarters that the debate “is held in the Parliament where the elected people’s representatives sit. If they (the opposition) hope that Maidan or Caracas may repeat in Serbia, they shouldn’t dream about it because no one in the country will allow that to happen” Djuric said. Djuric also said the opposition should not be surprised if the citizens “peacefully and democratically” gathered outside the municipalities held by the opposition to show discontent with their work.
Djuric: Vulin boldly expressed his stance on Kosovo within the internal dialogue (N1)
Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djuric, assessed that the statement by Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin that the establishment of a “hard and solid border” between Serbs and Albanians is not an attack on the constitutional order of Serbia. ” Djuric told a press conference that Vulin had the courage to express his views and that he welcomed it, and that everyone had the right to express his views “within the internal dialogue” on how the Kosovo issue should be resolved.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Zvizdic: Only B&H politicians are connecting issue of Kosovo with B&H (Oslobodjenje)
Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Denis Zvizdic said that none of the EU representatives have attempted to connect the issue of Kosovo with B&H and Republika Srpska (RS), unlike the politicians from B&H, namely Chairman of the Presidency of B&H and SNSD leader Milorad Dodik. He went on to say that the claims that Serbia was in the worst position at the meeting were not true, because only in B&H there are politicians connecting the issue of Kosovo with the RS. Zvizdic pointed out that his goal in Berlin was to warn about the anti-Dayton and unconstitutional tendencies when it comes to territorial integrity of B&H. “Foreign policy of our country is in hands of the Presidency of B&H, where there is no consensus on Kosovo recognition. I asked from everyone to understand relations and political reality in B&H,” concluded Zvizdic.
SDA MP Semsudin Mehmedovic said it is clear that the EU will not be able to deal with the Kosovo issue because of lack of political capacity, while Serbia and its President Aleksandar Vucic are trying to get B&H involved in this issue. Also, Mehmedovic pointed out that Vucic keeps showing lack of respect for territorial integrity of B&H by participating in the talks about secession of the entity of the RS.
Dodik and Dzaferovic meet with Turkish President Erdogan in Ankara (TV1)
Chairman of the Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H) Presidency Milorad Dodik and Bosniak member of the B&H Presidency Sefik Dzaferovic met with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan during an official visit to Ankara on Thursday. At their meeting, the two members of the B&H Presidency and the Turkish President agreed that there are no open issues between B&H and Turkey and announced that cooperation of their two countries will increase in the future. Dodik and Erdogan signed the free trade agreement between B&H and Turkey, which enables EUR 1 billion of value of contribution to the trade of these countries. Memorandum of understanding (MoU) between B&H and Turkey for the project of construction of the highway Sarajevo-Belgrade was also signed. Dodik, Dzaferovic and Erdogan discussed strengthening of the trade and economic cooperation that would contribute to internal political unity of B&H, as well as formation of state-level authorities in B&H. A possibility for inclusion of B&H into the gas pipeline project ‘Turkish Stream’, which connects gas sources via Turkey and Western Balkans to Western Europe, was another topic of their discussion. Collocutors emphasized that B&H has the support of Turkey in terms of joining the project.
With regard to the fact that collocutors touched upon the issue the Euro-Atlantic path of B&H during the meeting, Dodik said: “We understood that it is necessary to form the authorities as soon as possible, in order to continue our successful bilateral cooperation, as well as to enable continuation of work on all issues of importance for B&H, which of course includes cooperation with NATO. I want to say that, in B&H, there is already an institutional and formalized form of cooperation through the Partnership for Peace, and the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) that we are willing to renew by the end of the year, in new capacity, and continue cooperation with NATO.” Dodik told the press that he saw understanding in Ankara for the situation in B&H and for different stances regarding the country’s NATO accession, although Erdogan stated that he supports the Euro-Atlantic path of B&H.
Erdogan expressed Turkey’s strong support to formation of authorities in B&H and especially the Euro-Atlantic path of B&H, saying: “We want the authorities in B&H to be formed as soon as possible, without mutual accusations, and for the leaders to focus on the process of reforms as soon as possible, along with integration of B&H in Euro-Atlantic institutions and membership in NATO, which Turkey supports greatly. We will continue investing efforts for the sake of stability of B&H in every sense.” Commenting on the significance of signing the MoU for the project of construction of the highway Sarajevo-Belgrade, Erdogan stated that this highway will contribute to the development of the entire B&H. “We also discussed the fields of energy, tourism, agriculture, and cattle breeding. We will continue to encourage private companies to do business and invest in B&H. We are working on strengthening ties in the field of culture and human relations” Erdogan added.
Republic of North Macedonia
Second round of presidential elections to be observed by PACE delegation (Nezavisen vesnik)
A delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), led by Marie-Christine Dalloz, will travel to North Macedonia from 4 to 6 May to observe the second round of the presidential election, said PACE in a press release. The delegation will observe the election alongside observers from the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The PACE delegation will meet the two presidential candidates Stevo Pendarovski and Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, as well as the Chairperson of the State Electoral Commission, before observing the ballot on 5 May, reads the press release.
Meanwhile, the two candidates Pendarovski and Siljanovska-Davkova have called for a large turnout in the polls. Pendarovski said that a vote for him means a better perspective for everyone, it means a sure path towards European integration, reforms, progress, development and NATO integration. On the other hand, the opposition’s candidate, Siljanovska said that voting for her means reformation of the state, because for the moment, the country is not offering its citizens a decent living. According to her, accession talks between North Macedonia and EU will be postponed. However, the two candidates fear that turnout in the elections will be smaller than 40%.
Prime Minister and leader of SDSM, Zoran Zaev said in a TV appearance that he’s sure that the turnout will be larger. “If turnout is smaller, then we could either reorganize elections or we could amend the Constitution for the president to be elected by parliament. However, we’re confident that the president will be elected by the people” he said.
In order for the second round of elections to be valid, minimum turnout must be 40%. According to the State Election Commission, turnout in the first round of presidential elections was 41.8%.
Joseph Daul publicly supports Siljanovska (Nezavisen vesnik)
The European People’s Party leader, Joseph Daul, has publicly supported VMRO-DPMNE’s presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova. “Justice also means fair, free and transparent elections. Elections that will enable all participants to fight equally. It’s the image of your country that depends on that. Justice, that’s what Gordana promises if you elect her. And what kind of beautiful message will you send if you elect a woman at the helm of your country for the first time” said the European People’s Party leader Joseph Daul.
Ahmeti: A vote for Pendarovski is support for a concept that in five to ten years will enable an Albanian to be the President of the state (Republika)
DUI official Ali Ahmeti at a campaign rally Thursday in Skopje called on ethnic Albanians in Sunday’s run-off to vote for the pro-Western candidate, backed with a consensus by the ruling SDSM-DUI coalition Stevo Pendarovski, because it would allow an Albanian to be the president of the state in five or ten years from now.
“The Parliament Speaker was elected through a consensual concept, through understanding and dialogue. Thus, in the future, we think the president of the country, through dialogue and reconciliation, through the agreements to be realized as one goal, as one aspiration, but also a demonstration for all citizens in this country that the master in this country are the Albanians too and that the president of this country can be an Albanian. But this comes through a process called consensus. And we serve a philosophy, a concept that will become a reality after five, ten years” said Ahmeti in his address. Explaining their concept, among other things, Ahmeti adds, not accidentally they insisted in the Ohrid Framework Agreement, that consensual democracy be one of the points of special importance, in order to prevent the majority from making decisions to the detriment of those who do not have a majority in Parliament or in another institution.
Albanian Opposition’s Ultimatum: No Election on June 30 (ADN)
The message of the opposition from the Thursday evenings protest was clear: Local elections will not be held on June 30, despite ruling majority determination. The leader of Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha said without a free voting process, elections cannot be realized.
“We will not allow local elections to be happen on June 30. Elections without the opposition cannot be realized” said Basha. He also warned that the opposition’s protests will continue as announced, every Thursday, by blocking road, while the biggest one was called for May 11.
Chairman of the Democratic Party, Lulzim Basha, has gathered the united opposition to present the platform for Free and Fair Elections. According to the platform for free and fair elections, a government that does not have the will to free elections poses a risk to democratic stability.
Platform for Free and Fair Elections:
Duties of Provisional Government
Democratic Legitimacy & Stability
- Free and fair elections are the foundation of the legitimacy of the Parliament, the Government and the Local Government.
- Elections without standards and manipulated ruin democratic coexistence and stability.
Free Elections, The Foundation of Democratic Stability
- Without free elections there is no democracy, rule of law or European integration.
- Improved elections enabled two peaceful political rotations. (2005 & 2013)
- Progress in electoral standards in 2002-2013 contributed to the progress of European integration.
- The deterioration of the electoral standards in 2015 and 2017 returned the EU condition for free and fair elections.
- Political will is a prerequisite for free and fair elections.
- Legislation cannot replace the lack of political will.
- Political will is the first recommendation of every ODIHR report.
- A government that does not have the will to free elections poses a threat to democratic stability.
Law Implementation – Electoral Reform
- Despite the need for electoral reform, the major problems in the process of elections don’t need changes to the Electoral Code.
- These problems are issues of everyday governance; therefore, they only require the political will and responsibility of the Government.
- In case of need for legislation, only a simple majority is needed, also acts of the Council of Ministers or of the responsible ministers are needed.
Major Electoral Problems
- Involvement of organized crime in cooperation with the government in vote-selling and vote-buying and intimidation of voters.
- Pressure on administration and abuse of state funds.
- Credible voter identification.
- Voters List and Address System.
- Fictitious voting of immigrants.
- The role of the police in the elections
Organized Crime and Vote-Selling and Buying
- The vote buying constitutes election corruption. This criminal phenomenon violates the freedom to vote.
- In 2015-2017, the involvement of crime with the government turned into an acute electoral problem.
- Korca’s elections in October 2013 proved the Socialist Party’s organized vote-selling.
- For the first time, the ODIHR made a recommendation for the vote-selling in the 2015 elections (recommendation 14)
- Partial elections in Dibra in Septemberm 2016 confirmed the systematic involvement of organized crime with the highest political levels (File 184).
- In 2017, the ODIHR found a dramatic increase in the problem and listed the vote-buying and selling as Priority Recommendation no. 2.
- A European Union-funded survey found that 20% of voters in Albania admitted being affected by vote-selling.
- The legal framework in the Electoral Code and the Criminal Code is sufficient to punish vote-selling. Rama’s direct involvement with the powers bestowed upon him as PM provides him immunity.
- The justice to carry out investigation, judgment and punishment of electoral crimes without political interference.
- The fundamental will remains the will of the government against electoral corruption.
- Edi Rama is the catalyst and main supporter of this phenomenon. He cannot guarantee the success of the fight against vote-buying and selling.
PRESSURE ON ADMINISTRATION & VOTERS
- The government exerted pressure on public administration employees.
- Employees were forced to take part in the campaign and vote for government candidates, by threatening them with dismissal.
- Voters were threatened with dismissal even in private companies that received state tenders and favors.
- The prime minister ordered the police to collect votes in the campaign for the Socialist Party.