Albanian parties reach consensus on electoral reform
TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albanian political parties on Friday reached a long-sought consensus on electoral reform aimed at guaranteeing free and fair elections and considered a key condition to start accession negotiations with the European Union.
The new agreement focuses on the electronic identification of the voters, depoliticizing the election administration and other technicalities in line with recommendations from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which has monitored the post-communist country’s elections.
Albania’s post-communist elections have continually been marred by irregularities, like vote buying or manipulation in baloot counting.
After failing to conclude an agreement by the May 31 deadline that had been set by the political parties, two days of meetings of the main political actors were held at the residence of U.S. Ambassador Yuri Kim, facilitating the dialogue together with her EU and British counterparts.
“They address a key condition to start EU accession negotiations, as stated in the Council conclusions of March 2020, thereby moving Albania one step closer to its EU future. This bodes well for future progress on reforms needed on Albania’s EU path,” said a joint statement of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi.
In March Albania and North Macedonia were given the green light by the European Union to begin membership talks, though a starting date has yet to be set.
A U.S. Embassy statement said, “This important milestone was reached because Albania’s leaders put their differences aside and worked to deliver a tangible result to the Albanian people.”
The OSCE, which assisted in drafting the reform, urged that “all the proposed and agreed changes (are) voted” on in the parliament soon so they can be applied in next year’s elections.