ISSN 2330-717X

Albania: Leaders Lock Horns Over New Foreign Minister

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By Gjergj Erebara

Albania’s Prime Minister, Edi Rama, has condemned President Ilir Meta’s refusal to decree his choice for a new foreign minister, which is expected to create a constitutional crisis. 

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama on Twitter on Thursday condemned President Ilir Meta’s refusal to endorse his nominee Gent Cakaj as new foreign minister, calling it “not just unconstitutional but also shameful”.

He also issued an apology to Kosovo “about this shame”, as Cakaj has citizenship of both Kosovo and Albania.

Earlier, President Meta refused to approve the new minister, claiming he was not up to the challenge of running diplomacy, in a move that could create a constitutional crisis in the country.

Cakaj, aged 28, was chosen by Prime Minister Rama for this key position after he decided to change about half of his cabinet last December in response to a wave of mass protests.

Meta has accepted all of Rama’s six other nominations for ministerial posts.

In a letter sent to the Prime Minister earlier on Thursday, Meta said Cakaj had neglected his obligation to obtain security clearance for about seven months since he became a deputy minister.

He also raised doubts about the speed of the procedure followed by Albania’s Security Check Commission to award him top-level clearance within one day on January 4.

“Cakaj does not fulfill the criteria, does not have credibility and does not offer the necessary guarantees to exert his duties objectively and with the required stature,” Meta wrote.

Following Meta’s decision, Rama mocked commentators in Albania and Kosovo that had supported Meta’s decision, saying they were “defecating rivers of love for the nation”. A much-repeated slogan of Meta’s claims he works with “serenity and love” for the nation.

Under the constitution, the President cannot refuse to decree the appointment of ministers. However, Albania currently lacks a functioning constitutional court to settle the matter.

Rama chose Cakaj to replace now ex-minister Ditmir Bushati, who was one of the seven ministers that he axed after a year of popular student-led protests against government policies.

Meta was elected President of Albania last year with Socialist Party leader Rama’s support. However, his own Socialist Movement for Integration, currently led by his wife, Monika Kryemadhi, has moved into the opposition since those elections.

Last October, Meta refused to decree another new Interior Minister, Sander Lleshaj, but later relented.

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Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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