Doc. 8208

23 September 1998

Latest developments in Albania


Political Affairs Committee

Rapporteur: Mr René van der Linden, Netherlands, Group of the European

People's Party


The Assembly strongly condemns the murder of Democratic Party parliamentarian Azem Hajdari as well as the political violence from both side following this murder.

The Assembly supports the efforts of President Meidani to find a political solution to the crisis and calls on its political groups to use all their influence on the respective Albanian parties.

The Assembly while welcoming the recent initiative of the Chairman-in-office, calls on the Committee of Ministers to remain actively involved in the search for a political solution.

I.       Draft recommendation

1. The Assembly expresses concern about the recent developments in Albania.

2. The Assembly considers the brutal arrest of six former high-ranking officials of the Democratic Party as an unnecessary political provocation which spoiled the all-party talks on the constitution already foreseen on 31 August 1998.

3. The Assembly underlines that there should be no more political prisoners in Albania in the future.

4. The Assembly strongly condemns the murder of Democratic Party parliamentarian Azem Hajdari and his bodyguard. The authorities should prove to the international community that they are making every effort to bring those responsible to justice as soon as possible and to allow for independent international investigation.

5.       The Assembly further strongly condemns the political violence from both sides following these murders. Attacks on the democratic institutions of the state cannot be justified on any political grounds. Any tentative to take power by force is clearly unacceptable.

6.       It deplores the decision of the Democratic Party no longer to participate in the work of the parliament.

7.       The Assembly welcomes the rapid initiative of the Chairman-in-office of the Committee of Ministers to visit Tirana, together with the Secretary-General and the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE. It fully endorses the delegation’s criticisms and recommendations directed at both the opposition and the government.

8.       The Assembly reiterates the declarations of the tri-parliamentary missions to work for reconciliation and proceed with vitally needed reforms. It notes with regret that neither the government nor the opposition heeded these calls. The continuing lack of security and political dialogue as well as the use of inflammatory political rhetoric by all sides also contributed to the present political instability.

9.       The Assembly supports and encourages the efforts of President Meidani to mediate and find a political solution to the crisis.

10.       The Assembly calls on its political groups to use all their influence on the respective Albanian political parties to respect the country’s democratic institutions and their rules, to support President Meidani’s efforts and restart political dialogue.

11.       The assistance given to Albania by the international community cannot benefit the Albanian people if the country’s political leaders refuse to assume their responsibilities.

12.       The Assembly, regarding the recent imprisonment of journalists, stresses the importance of freedom of the media in a pluralist democracy.

13.       The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers continue to be actively involved, in close co-operation with the competent international organisations, in the search for a political solution to the crisis and support the efforts to bring all political parties together.

II. Explanatory memorandum by the rapporteur

Albania : chronology of main domestic events

(end June – 20 September 1998)


29-30 A new tri-parliamentary mission (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and European Parliament) visited Albania. The delegation issued a declaration which appears in appendix 1. MM van der Linden and Solé Tura were the Assembly’s representatives.

29       The Albanian Parliament began to debate the report of the so-called Ngjela Parliamentary Committee on the riots of 1997.


6 Mr Andreas Papaconstantinou, special representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, took up his functions in Tirana.

6-9       The rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee on Albanian children, Mrs Pozza Tasca, visited the country.

7       The leadership of the Democratic Party (DP) decided to start a new indefinite boycott of the Parliament. Among other reasons to take such a decision, the DP mentioned corruption, little compliance with the tri-parliamentary declaration, government control of the electronic media, political dismissal of local authorities and violence against DP activists.

9 The DP’s leadership declined the invitation to participate in the final reading of the draft constitution.

10 The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament issued a joint statement (see appendix 2) expressing their surprise and disappointment about the DP’s decision to boycott the Parliament. The Head of the OSCE Presence and the Council of Europe representative in Tirana also stated their deep concern.

17-18 During a working session in Rome to review the draft of the Albanian Constitution, attended by representatives of the Constitutional Commission, the Council of Europe Commission for “Democracy through Law” (“Venice Commission”) expressed praise for the work accomplished. DP representatives declined the invitation to participate.

17-21       The Political Affairs Committee of the WEU Parliamentary Assembly visited Albania concentrating on the Kosovo conflict.

18-26 Clashes between Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) fighters and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) security forces on the FRY-Albania border. Exchange of fire between Albanian border police and FRY forces. Displaced persons from Kosovo continued to enter Albania.

28 The Albanian Parliament held a “closed-door” session on the latest border incidents, chaired by the President of the Republic. The FRY accepted responsibility for the cross border shooting that took place on 26 July at Morini border post.


4 The Constitutional Commission revised the initial draft constitutional text to reflect the comments of the Venice Commission and reached an agreement on a final draft.

5 The Co-Chairmen of the Constitutional Commission invited the Union for Democracy (which includes the DP) to present their comments on the final draft at a special public hearing. DP rejected the offer and instead reiterated its call for a round table of political parties. The Socialist Party, the Republican Party, the Social Democrats and the Democratic Alliance Party responded positively to the DP proposal. The meeting was scheduled to take place on 31 August.

6 Before its summer recess, the Albanian Parliament adopted a resolution on the situation in Kosovo calling “for an immediate military intervention by NATO in Kosovo, as the only way to stop the war and to start negotiations for a peaceful solution”.

14 The Council of Europe Secretary General addressed a letter to the Albanian Prime Minister expressing the organisations’ concern on rumours of a possible lifting of the present moratorium on the application of capital sentences or of a referendum on death penalty. He asked for a clarification of the position of the Albanian Government on this issue (see appendix 3)

17-22       NATO “Co-operative Assembly 98” exercise.

22 Following orders issued by the Tirana Military Prosecutor, six former high-ranking officials of the DP (including 2 former ministers) were arrested by the police and charged with crimes against the humanity.

23 The DP National Council issued a statement condemning the arrests as politically motivated.

24 The Albanian Prime Minister appeared on state TV to deliver a statement on the arrest of the six DP former high-ranking officials. He denied DP allegations according to which he ordered the arrests.

25       In his reply to the letter of the Council of Europe Secretary General, the Albanian Prime Minister confirmed that the Albanian Government was fully enaged to honour all commitments towards the Council of Europe, including the abolition of death penalty in a later stage (see appendix 4)

27 As a consequence of the tension created by the arrests of the six DP former high-ranking officials the meeting of 31 August on the draft constitution was postponed.

27 The Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly authorised its rapporteurs on Albania (MM van der Linden and Solé Tura) to visit the country on a fact-finding mission. The visit was planned for 15 and 16 September.

29       The CoE Special Representative and the OSCE Presence in Albania issued a joint statement expressing their concern on the political tension following the arrests of six former officials (see appendix 5). They urged “all parties to comply with the relevant laws and procedures to resolve this issue in a manner consistent with a democratic state based on the rule of law”.

31       Despite a police ban, the DP organised a demonstration in Tirana to protest against the arrests.


3 The Parliamentary Assembly Committee on Legal affairs and Human Rights authorised its rapporteurs on the conflict between the Government and the Constitutional Court in Albania (MM Besostri and Columberg) to visit the country on 18 and 19 September.

4       Having been informed by the Clerk of the Parliamentary Assembly about the two fact-finding missions to Tirana, the Speaker of the Albanian Parliament expressed his availability for the organisation of MM van der Linden and Solé Tura visit but asked for reconsideration of the MM Besostri and Columberg one.

8       In a meeting of the Socialist parliamentary group, the Albanian Prime Minister suggested a temporary freeze of investigations into last year unrest.

12       A senior leader of Albania’s opposition Democratic Party, Azem Hajdari, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen as he stepped out of the Party’s office in Tirana

13       Supporters of Albania’s opposition Democratic Party set fire to cars outside the Interior Ministry, before moving on to the nearby building that houses the office of Prime Minister Fatos Nano

14       Anti-government protesters stormed public buildings and commandeered tanks in Tirana. Several people were wounded in exchanges of gunfire between guards at Nano’s office and mourners attending Hajdari’s funeral. Opposition supporters seized the state television and radio station

15 About 3,000 followers of former Albanian President Sali Berisha defied a government ban and staged a peaceful march through the centre of Tirana, where seven people had been killed and another 76 wounded since Sunday 13.

16       Albanian opposition leader Sali Berisha denounced government plans to prosecute him and his followers as coup plotters and called a national day of protest for Friday 18

17       The European Union appointed M. Grubmayr special envoy to Albania charged with promoting political dialogue and ending the current unrest

18       Albania’s parliament voted to lift former President Sali Berisha’s immunity from prosecution

19-20       A top-level delegation consisting of the Chairman in office of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Mr Papandreou, the Secretary General of theCouncil, Mr Tarschys, and the Chairman in office of the OSCE, Mr Geremek, visited Tirana

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4

Appendix 5

Reporting committee: Political Affairs Committee

Reference to committee: Request for urgent debate, Reference No. 2325 of 21 September 1998

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none

Draft recommendation unanimously adopted by the committee on 22 september 1998.

Members of the committee: Mr Bársony (Chairman), Mr van der Linden (Vice-Chairman), Mrs Ojuland (Vice-Chairperson), M. Baumel (Vice-Chairman), MM Antretter, Arzilli, Atkinson, Mrs Belohorska, MM Bergqvist, Björck (alternate: Mr Hagård), Bloetzer (alternate: Mr Gross), Chircop, Chornovil, Daly, Davis, Dokle, Domljan, Gjellerod, Glotov, Gül, Hadjidemetriou, Hornhues, Mrs Iotti, MM Irmer, Iwínski, Kalus, Mrs Kautto, MM Kirilov, Krzaklewski (alternate: Mr Slomka), Kuzmickas, Mrs Lentz-Cornette, MM Lopez-Henares, Lupu, van der Maelen, Maginas, Martínez, Medeiros Ferreira, Meier, Mota Amaral, Mühlemann, Mutman, Nallet, Nedelciuc, Oliynik, Pahor, Palmitjavilo Ribo, Popovski, Prusak, Mrs Ragnarsdóttir, Mrs Roudy, MM Schieder, Schwimmer, Seguin, Selva, Sinka, Mrs G Smith, Mrs Stanoiu, Mrs Stepova, MM Surjan, Thoresen, Toshev, Urbain, Volcic, Vrettos, Woltjer, Ziuganov (alternate: Mr Zhebrovsky).

N.B. The names of the members who took part in the vote are printed in italics

Secretaries of the committee: Mr Kleijssen, Mr Sich, Mr Gruden