Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has reacted to the centre-right European People’s Party resolution authorizing the inauguration of imprisoned Himare mayor Fredi Beleri, passed in the European Parliament on Tuesday.
Beleri, the winning candidate for an opposition coalition, was arrested two days before local elections in April on suspicion of vote buying. He claims his innocence but has since been remanded in custody, along with 48 other suspects, including candidates from the ruling center-left Socialist Party.
Several appeals to reduce security measures if arrested in prison were rejected, meaning he could not be sworn in as mayor. Greece and the Albanian opposition said his arrest and detention were politically and ethnically motivated, as well as a violation of the rule of law and democratic standards.
The government in Athens and members of the EPP have repeatedly threatened to block Albania’s path to EU membership if the situation with Beleri is not resolved in accordance with their demands.
The Albanian government remains convinced that Beleri must wait for the courts to complete their work, denying that it is anything other than a matter of justice.
On Tuesday, the EPP Group, of which the Greek ruling New Democracy party is a member, tabled a resolution on the Beleri case.
He called for the arrest of the Albanian-born Greek mayor-elect to be added to the European Commission’s 2022 country report, which was approved in July. In addition, they demand that he be authorized to take an oath to take office. If he doesn’t by mid-September, another vote could be called.
During the parliamentary session, MPs expressed concern over Beleri’s arrest and demanded his immediate release. The resolution also states that the Albanian authorities violated the presumption of innocence and directly intervened in the electoral process “against European values”.
The resolution goes on to say that “no country trying to become a member of the EU can act in this way”.
At the same time, it is added that “the Albanian government’s blatant disregard for the rule of law, fundamental rights, the rights of the Greek minority and above all the European acquis creates a political vacuum between Albania and EU”.
The resolution concludes by asking the Albanian authorities to respect the result of the May 14 local elections, as well as the presumption of innocence, and to take all legal, administrative or other measures necessary to guarantee Beleri’s nomination.
Rama reacted to the resolution on social media, noting that the the assembly does not specify to whom they refer in the solution and that the Albanian government is ready to provide the EPP with any necessary information on the case at any time.
“Interesting! “We appeal to the Albanian authorities”… An appeal without specifying which authorities and, certainly, without being informed that the problem, in this case, is not the result of the elections, but the result of the courts, which have already rejected this call. a request,” Rama wrote, referring to the four rulings that Beleri’s security measure should remain a jail arrest.
He added that he used the word “definitely” because “it would be truly shocking if Europe’s main people’s party adopted a resolution titled ‘Rule of Law’ to demand a different outcome to that decided by the Special Prosecutor against Corruption and Organized Crime and the Special Courts of the same name.
The Prime Minister explained that the institutions in charge of this case were created with the full support of the EU and the United States. They are closely supervised and assisted by the same entities in the fight against corruption.
“If needed, we are more than willing to provide the highly respected EPP leadership with information on this topic in any format at any time. There is no doubt that all Albanian authorities greatly expect the continued support of the EPP as the strong voice of our Europe during this historic phase of change for our country,” added Rama.
He concluded that high-profile cases that cross political affiliations are being thoroughly investigated, “signaling the end of a long era of impunity.”
(Alice Taylor | Out.al)