Albania's Prime Minister Edi Rama attends a press conference with Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni(not pictured) at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, 06 November 2023. EPA-EFE/GIUSEPPE LAMI


Albania’s Constitutional Court freezes migrant deal with Italy


The Albanian Constitutional Court has prevented the Parliament in Tirana from discussing or ratifying an asylum agreement forged by Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama with Italy as it wants two appeals requested by the opposition to be investigated.

According to the Conservative opposition, the proposed treaty will see Albania transfer sovereignty of two territories to Italy, which requires the approval of the President of the Republic Bajram Begaj.

The 30 Albanian opposition parliamentarians in the court appeal described the procedures adopted by Rama as “lacking transparency”.

The ratification of the asylum agreement between Italy and Albania was scheduled for December 14. A ruling on the merits or otherwise in now expected in the next three months.

In their appeal against the deal, the opposition MPs argued that it violates the Albanian Constitution and international treaties signed and adhered to by the country.

Italy played down the issue and said it was an internal technical matter. Despite that, the delay could make it harder to send asylum seekers from Italy to Albania over the coming summer.

Georgia Meloni’s Italian Government had received the endorsement of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over the plans just a few hours before the court ruling.

According to von der Leyen: “The agreement between Italy and Albania is an example of thinking outside the box, based on a fair sharing of responsibilities with third countries, in line with the obligations under international and EU law.”

Rama was hoping the help he might provide Italy regarding asylum seekers would earn him and Albania bonus points as it seeks ascension into the European Union.

Under the agreement, Albania would host up to 3,000 migrants a month.

Italy would pay to house a total of up to 36,000 asylum seekers in Shen Gjin, an Albanian port-city, and an adjacent decommissioned military base, Gjadri.

The migrants from Italy would not be able to move beyond the assigned areas and Rome would administer and fund the entire procedure.