New PM Edi Rama threatens the parliamentary opposition/
Tirana, 16 September 2013-The Democratic Party is gravely concerned about several unprecedented attacks involving violent language and threats against the opposition and the denial of its basic parliamentary rights, by the new Prime Minister Edi Rama.
Expressing our utmost appreciation for your time and consideration, the following is a brief account of the events:
1. On 9 and 10 September 2013, Albanian Parliament assembled in its first and second opening sessions, after the election of 23 June 2013. Contrary to what Albania experienced in the last 8 years, this time the opposition led by the Democratic Party participated responsibly and constructively in the constitution of the new Parliament.
2. Prior to and repeatedly during the works of the Parliament this week, the Democratic Party chairman and MPs publicly pledged to end the past legacy of the previous opposition of blocking and boycotting, and to offer full consensus by supporting unconditionally every step that helps to further the process of European integration of Albania.
3. After his election on the afternoon of 10 September, the new Speaker of Parliament notified the MPs of the time of the next session of the Parliament, which was scheduled to take place the next day, on 11 September 2013, at 11:00 am.
4. To their great surprise, MPs were informed that during this session, that is, the very next morning at 11:00, the new Prime Minister will present the political program of the new government. Immediately afterwards, MPs were to ask questions and debate about the proposed program.
5. Meanwhile, opposition MPs had not received a copy of the purported program. The official request of the head of DP Parliamentary Group to postpone the debate for 72 hours, until MPs prepare themselves for this most important debate met with the arrogant refusal of the majority.
7. This is the first time in 22 years of democratic parliamentary practice in Albanian that the opposition is denied of its constitutional right to review the draft political program prior to engaging in a parliamentary debate.
8. The letter and the spirit of Albanian Constitution and the Rules of the Parliament guarantee the right of the opposition to transparency and parliamentary oversight. It was only after the public refusal of all opposition representatives to engage in such a window-dressing practice that the majority restored the normal course of proceeding and accepted to grant 48 hours, for the preparation of the debate.
9. Unfortunately, arrogant behavior and the use of threats to the opposition did not end here. During his initial address which was supposed to be the introduction of the new government program, the new PM Edi Rama kept retorting to harsh language and attacking and threatening the opposition and its MPs using expressions such as “one million slaps in the face are indeed more than you can handle” and “after receiving such a battering no wonder your heads are spinning”.
10. In protest to such abusive language in what should have been the presentation of the government program, the opposition walked out, but vowed to return on Saturday to engage in parliamentary debate about the program.
11. During Saturday and Sunday opposition MPs participated in the debate, patiently pointing out all discrepancies between the inflated promises of Socialist Party’s electoral campaign and the political program of the mandated government.
12. This constructive approach was countered by continues verbal hostility culminating in PM Edi Rama closing remarks before the voting of the new government. Referring to the walk out by the opposition in protest to the harsh language and verbal attacks during his presentation speech PM Rama went on to say: “… a motive to leave the hall on the pretention that I exercise violence? You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
13. When the opposition group rose to protest such an unprecedented threat, the Speaker of Parliament Ilir Meta, an ally of PM Rama in the governing coalition in an obvious attempt to play down the situation stated audibly “A joke. It was a joke.”
14. Immediately afterwards through a press conference, the leader of the opposition and chairman of the Democratic Party Lulzim Basha deploring and condemning the threats, invited PM Edi Rama to renounce them and to bid his excuses for the language used. However, no reaction whatsoever has been issued by PM Rama or his office to date.
15. The Democratic Party and Albanian opposition believe that these actions by PM Edi Rama are a bad omen for the future relations between the majority and opposition. They follow prior incidents of violent language and outright physical violence towards individuals and institutions by Mr. Rama and his associates prior to, during and after the election campaign.
16. Besides continuing a well-established pattern in the recent and distant past, this conduct may also be prelude to a strategy of tension with the Albanian opposition in order to shift the attention of the public away from the many promises made by the current majority during the election campaign.
17. The Democratic Party puts its faith in the values of transparent and constructive debate and cooperation that reflect European standards of parliamentary practice. However the Democratic Party is determined to stand firmly against current and any future threats and ready to undertake all legal and legitimate steps to defend the mission of the opposition, the values of parliamentary democracy and the wishes of Albanian citizens for a European conduct of parliamentary politics on the way to European integration of Albania.
Thank you for your kind attention.