Parliamentary elections – in which a branch of the Self-Determination in Albania will also take part – are scheduled to be held on April 25th in Albania. The pre-election campaign is underway. According to allegations from the Kosovo opposition, as well as some media outlets, Albin Kurti – who has been sharing photos and biographies of LVV MP candidates of this party branch on his Facebook profile – is also a part of this opposition.
For the time being, the Albanian branch of Self-Determination is not registered as a political party but operates as a civic initiative that supports independent candidates in parliamentary elections.
The newly elected Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, shared three posts on Facebook about the candidates of this initiative on Saturday.
„Gjirokastar is a world treasure, and I don’t know anyone who would run this city better than Kreshnik Merxhani, an independent candidate number 13. Kreshnik Merxhani, in addition to being an activist of the Self-Determination movement, is one of the best Albanian experts in the field of cultural heritage, as well as among restoration architects.“
„I met Iliaz Shehu a few years ago when he lived and studied philosophy in Paris. Today he is a university lecturer in Albania. He has been an activist of the movement since 2010. He is looking for your support as an independent MP candidate in the region of Lezhe, number 13.“
„My friend and colleague, Boiken Abazi, is running for MP in Tirana. Boiken is an independent candidate and his number on the ballot is 13.“
Kurti’s announcements were soon met with criticism.
The vice president of the Democratic League of Kosovo, Shqipe Mjekiqi, told Kurti that it was „absurd“ to deal with Albania’s internal affairs when Kosovo is in an economic, social and pandemic crisis.
„During the economic, social, and pandemic crisis, instead of adopting a strategy for overcoming this situation, Prime Minister Kurti is dealing with the internal affairs of Albania, showing favoritism toward MP candidates. It is absurd and an unprecedented move,“ said Mjekiqi, Pristina media report.
Reporting on the participation of the Self-Determination branch in the elections in Albania, the German daily „Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung“ recently wrote that the fact remains that Albin Kurti’s party is now campaigning and that Kurti himself participated in the campaign, as well as that it was not met with enthusiasm by the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, Deutsche Welle reports.
This media outlet also raises the question – whether Albin Kurti’s dreams of a Greater Albania are hidden behind this move.
An election candidate in Albania, Boiken Abazi, told this media outlet that „this will not happen tomorrow or in the coming years, of course,“ but also that LVV strives for „a peaceful and democratic process in which referendums on unification in both countries will be held.“
„Surveys in Albania and Kosovo show that more than two-thirds of Albanians would vote for unification in a referendum,“ Abazi was quoted as saying, Deutsche Welle reports.
The idea of unification of Kosovo and Albania through a referendum was once again brought to the fore just before Kosovo’s early parliamentary elections were held earlier this year. Albin Kurti also spoke about it – although much more discreetly compared to previous years.
„If it can be done peacefully and democratically, then yes, we will accept the results of the referendum, but we will not start the third Balkan war for unification with Albania,“ Kurti said on the eve of the elections in Kosovo.
Kurti sent similar messages after the elections, during his visit to Albania in early March. From the Albanian city of Gjirokaster, he once again advocated for a change of the first article of the Kosovo constitution, which stipulates that Kosovo „cannot be annexed to another state.“
The leader of the AAK, Ramush Haradinaj, also spoke about the referendum for unification.
During the election campaign, and as a candidate for the presidency of Kosovo, he stated on several occasions that he would ask for the unification of Kosovo with Albania in a referendum in 2025 – if Kosovo does not make progress on its path to the European Union by that time.
The director of the South Mitrovica municipal inspection, Fidan Ademi, who is a member of the Self-Determination according to Pristina media reports, also sent a message on unification. Unlike Kurti, however, Ademi stressed that unification with Albania will “come to be either with a rifle or a referendum.”
„Albania will certainly be united one day – with rifle barrels, gunpowder fire, or a referendum box,“ Ademi said in a short Facebook post.
One of the rights advocated by Self-Determination, which is part of the statute of this movement, is „Kosovo’s right to unite with Albania.“
Another priority of this party includes:
„The right of the citizens of Kosovo to a referendum, through the drafting and voting of law on this issue.“
The establishment of joint governmental and parliamentary commissions with Albania on national security, foreign policy, and common natural resources is also one of the priorities.
On the other hand, they are in favor of sending the Brussels Agreement from 2013 to the Venice Commission to assess its legality and compliance with international standards, and annulling the Agreement from 2015 on the establishment of the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities.
They also advocate for institutional support to Albanians in Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac, i.e. facilitating the process of acquiring citizenship, with the ultimate goal of creating a joint development fund with Albania with the support of a joint office for coordinating the problems of Albanians in southern Serbia.
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