The EU has been using the language of diplomacy, understandably, to try to break the political deadlock in Albania. At least publicly, neither side has been cornered or singled out for blame since the disputed elections of 2009, although all parties have been put on notice that the situation threatens the country’s EU candidacy.

But there are recent developments that are clear cut and execrable. And as the 20th anniversary of the country’s first multiparty elections approaches, they make Albania’s commitment to democracy (or at least that of some of its officials) seem like a joke.

Prime Minister Sali Berisha has refused to cooperate with an investigation by the prosecutor-general into the deaths of four anti-government protesters in January. Instead, he has established a parliamentary commission, made up exclusively of members of the ruling coalition, to investigate what he says was an attempt by demonstrators to overthrow the government. This is indecent and grotesque. Surely, it calls for unequivocal condemnation from Brussels?

I’ll leave it to others to ponder what the deadlock itself means for the state of democracy in Albania 20 years on. For an interesting discussion, I suggest a recent piece on Transconflict by Bledar Feta and Gerta Lezi.

Barbara Frye

Barbara Frye is Transitions Online’s managing editor. Email:

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