The Venice Commission, an advisory body to the Council of Europe, has queried the push by Albania’s Socialist-led government to impeach President Ilir Meta, saying it doubted the move was justified. It also criticised a draft law on property right, saying it was not clear enough.
The Commission statement came after the final report of the Commission, expected to be published on Monday, was partially leaked to the Albanian media.
“Council of Europe constitutional experts of the Venice Commission conclude that while the President may have acted beyond his constitutional powers, there are indications that his acts may not have been of a nature justifying impeachment,” the statement reads.
President Meta, a former ally of Prime Minister Rama’s, enraged the Socialists in June when he called for the June 30 local elections to be delayed to October 13.
The President claimed he was simply trying to resolve the deadlock between government and opposition over the elections and defend political pluralism.
But the government claimed he was exceeding his constitutional powers, ignored him, and unilaterally held the elections in June – which the opposition boycotted. Meta made no further attempt to stop the polls.
After the elections, Rama started an impeachment procedure against Meta, and sought support from the Venice Commission for the initiative.
The fate of the impeachment process now remains unclear. The head of the Socialist Party parliamentary group said after the release of the statement that “it belongs to the parliament of Albania to judge the President’s conduct”, without elaborating further.
The Commission was harsher regarding the co-called property rights law, saying that the proposed draft “lacks clarity and precision” concerning “basic procedural steps and clearly defined deadlines for title holders”.
The statement added: “The experts are concerned about excessive regulatory power attributed to the Council of Ministers under the draft law. Combined, these elements could make the draft law incompatible with the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights and the Albanian Constitution.”
The law was first proposed last year in December. It has been much criticized by Greek government, which claims it would allow the government to effectively expropriate land along the southern coast, which is where members of the Greek minority in Albania are concentrated.