The alarming situation involving Alfred (Fredi) Beleri, the elected Mayor of Himara and a representative of the Greek minority who is also supported by the Albanian opposition, reflects a disturbing breach of democratic norms and human rights. Beleri has been the subject of a series of escalating attacks led by Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama, culminating in his arrest on the eve of local elections in May 2023, over allegations of bribing voters.

Elected while in custody on May 14th, 2023, Beleri has remained detained for over three months at the prison of Vlore, preventing him from assuming his mayoral duties. The multiple appeals by his legal counsel have been consistently rejected, revealing a scenario where the application of the law seems intended to obstruct his role as the elected Mayor of Himara.

Albania’s journey towards EU accession highlights the importance of abiding by democratic transformations, fundamental rights, and adherence to EU rules, values, and standards. It’s crucial to acknowledge the significant role of the Greek government and the broader international community in advocating for the respect of democratic norms, minority rights, and EU integration efforts.

Reason for the Statement

The Youth of the European People’s Party (YEPP) finds it imperative to voice deep concerns over the undermining of democratic norms and the rule of law in Albania. Since elections are the highest form of democratic will, we see here a danger to the fundamental democratic values that we as a youth organization are willing to defend at all times. The simultaneous disregard for the rights of the Greek minority and the Albanian opposition candidates and the democratic ethos by the Rama administration are in utter contradiction to the principles that we, as YEPP, champion. Albania’s endeavors for EU accession demand unwavering commitment to EU values and standards.

• The European Parliament’s Resolution of July 12, 2023, outlined the enduring violations of the rights of the Greek minority and underscored the case of Beleri, emphasizing the essential requirement of democratic stability and respect for human rights in EU aspirant countries.

• The European People’s Party Political Assembly on the 4th of September 2023, issued a stern condemnation of the infractions perpetrated by the Albanian government against Beleri, echoing the European Parliament’s concerns and emphasizing the urgency of adhering to democratic norms and respecting minority rights.

YEPP Stance and Calls to Action

Given the disturbing developments in Albania, the Youth of the European People’s Party (YEPP) staunchly reaffirms our dedication to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. The blatant offenses of Albania’s government demand our resolute stance and assertive call for immediate and comprehensive rectification.

Therefore, YEPP calls on:

Concrete Condemnations: The international community to clearly and unwaveringly condemn the Albanian government’s actions and the continued unwarranted detention of Beleri.

Respect for Election Results: The Albanian authorities to unconditionally respect the local election results of May 14th, 2023, ensuring adherence to international norms and the precepts of European democracy.

Commitment to EU Principles: Albania to demonstrate sustained and actionable commitment to the values and standards of the European Union, reflecting sincere alignment with the fundamental tenets of the European community.

Enable Administrative Proceedings: All relevant institutions to facilitate swift and transparent procedures for the swearing-in of Mayor-elect Beleri, ensuring the independence of administrative and judicial actions.

Enhance Democratic Resilience: Albania to vigorously reinforce its dedication to democratic evolution, the rule of law, and the protection of fundamental and minority rights, reflecting genuine progress towards EU accession.