European Western Balkans

Parliament set to vote on judicial reform package

ata_maliTIRANA – The Assembly of Albania is set to vote on the constitutional amendments package and a sweeping judicial reform on Thursday, aimed at overhauling the country’s justice system.

However, late last night’s developments risk the process after political leaders had reached a last-minute deal on the long-awaited justice system reform a day ago, raising questions over today’s vote in the parliament.

The most recent claims raised by the main opposition Democratic Party late on Wednesday night have overturned the yesterday’s agreement on the text clinched thanks to the mediation of Commissioner of European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

DP negotiator Oerd Bylykbashi said that an agreed formula on in the vetting of judges and prosecutors in the justice system reform be also applied on two other institutions, namely the High Judiciary Council and the High Prosecution Council. Bylykbashi claimed that both parties had agreed on the matter during the negotiations earlier on Monday.

In a statement issued last night, the United States Embassy in Tirana expressed appointment, “noting that after declaring an agreement between government and opposition, the head of the opposition, Mr. Basha, has introduced an unacceptable new demand.”

This latest development forces us to conclude this is an intentional effort by the leader of the opposition to block this reform, U.S. Embassy said.

“The reform package is ready and fulfils all Venice Commission, U.S. and EU standards. If Mr. Basha cannot fulfil his promises, the United States Government calls upon the individual members of parliament to pass this reform on July 21,” U.S. Embassy concluded.

The Delegation of the European Union in Tirana said in a statement: “We assume that a consensus compromise officially announced by DP chairman Basha is still available. This is a matter of political and personal credibility”.

The European Parliament’s Rapporteur on Albania, Knut Fleckenstein, after hailing the consensus on judicial reform yesterday afternoon, voiced his dismay over the late night developments in this regard.

“New problems in Albania? I do not believe! I’m really upset. Will wait now until the votes tomorrow? Then we all can see. Sorry!” Fleckenstein twitted.

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