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The Albanian government is at a standstill as the EU tries to mediate between parties.
Although the situation has deteriorated markedly with the opposition’s three-week-long hunger strike and several attempts to block roads in a show of civil disobedience, Partos said a comparison with the crisis in Thailand, where there was a military coup against the elected prime minister, is not particularly relevant or helpful.
“Crucially the process of protests has been peaceful and both sides have wisely refrained from using violence and there is hope for some kind of negotiated solution that needs to be nurtured,” he said.
The Socialist-led opposition demands an election recount, saying complete transparency in the electoral process is necessary to avert future fraud — a constant concern in the two decades since Albania emerged from the Stalinist regime of Enver Hoxha.
The government has ruled out a recount, however, contending that the courts have already dismissed the Socialists’ request. The authorities say parliament would therefore be overstepping its powers and taking on the role of the judiciary if it ordered a recount.
In a joint statement issued last week ahead of the Strasbourg meeting, Fuele and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said that Albania stands at a crucial moment on its path toward EU integration and warned that a “range of domestic challenges require political courage.”
“The EU is seriously concerned about the continuing political stalemate, the dysfunctional parliament and the possible systemic effects across their institutions,” the statement read.
“Albania's prospects should not be further affected by a continuation of the status quo," Ashton and Fuele emphasized.
However, according to Partos, there is a limit to what Brussels can do unless the two political adversaries on the ground come to an arrangement.
“The dilemma facing the EU is that it does not want to be seen as interfering in the affairs of an independent country that intends to enter its club in Brussels,” he said.
“It ultimately can withhold its benefit of integration, however it’s not in the business of using the stick but it can hold back the carrot.”