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Call this a smooth enlargement process? Fireworks explode in Albanian Parliament

Chaos erupted in Albanian Parliament on November 20 when the opposition used chairs and fireworks to try to block voting on the new budget


Chaos erupted in Albanian Parliament on November 20 when the opposition used chairs and fireworks to try to block voting on the new budget.

Albanian opposition members disrupted the Parliament to protest against what they see as the increasingly authoritarian leadership of the ruling Socialists.

As Prime Minister Edi Rama took his seat to vote on next year’s budget, members of the Conservative-leaning Democratic Party fired flares and stacked chairs on top of each other in the middle of the assembly hall.

Bodyguards barred opposition legislators from approaching the Cabinet chairs.

Amid the commotion, the Socialists, who have 73 seats in the 140-seat Parliament, voted hastily and closed the session in five minutes. They plan to give further details on the contested budget later this week.

The opposition has accused the Government of corruption and wants to establish parliamentary investigation commissions to look into allegations involving Rama and other high officials.

According to the Socialists, the opposition’s demands do not meet Constitutional standards.

One of the opposition legislators, Gazment Bardhi, stated that they would not allow the Parliament to conduct its routine business.

“The battle has no way back,” said Sali Berisha, former prime minister and President of the Democratic Party, according to Reuters. “Our goal is to bring pluralism to Parliament.”

Bledi Çuçi, the president of the Socialists’ parliamentary faction, asked Albanians to remember that the Parliament was passing the largest budget in its history, twice the size of the one passed in 2013 when the Socialists took control.

“In democracy, the opposition speaks with alternatives and not with flares,” he said.

The trouble began last month, two days before prosecutors charged Berisha with corruption in connection with an alleged land-buying scam that is currently being probed in Tirana.

Albania’s Parliament plunged into chaos during a November 2 budget debate, when Berisha accused Rama’s Socialist Party of producing a budget that only favoured its  supporters’ interests.

As in the latest event, opposition MPs constructed barricades of chairs to block the parliamentary floor and opposition lawmaker Ervin Salianji set off flares that enveloped the room in purple smoke.

In May, police arrested a mayor-elect from Albania’s ethnic Greek minority, prompting Greece to threaten to veto Albania’s European Union accession bid.

Greek journalists observed Fredi Beler, the mayor-elect of Himara, was an ally of Berisha and was likely caught up in the intense rivalry between Berisha and Rama.

In July 2022, the European Commission started the screening process for European enlargement.

It currently reports the process “is progressing smoothly”.

In July 2023, the EC submitted a report titled Cluster 1 – Fundamentals, including benchmarks for opening accession negotiations on this cluster of potential new members.