Albania leaders in fresh EU sponsored talks

Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and opposition leader Edi Rama have been invited for fresh consultations with members of the European Parliament as part of efforts to overcome the political stalemate that has plagued the country for almost a year.

Berisha, who heads the ruling Democratic Party, and Socialist Party leader Rama have been locked in a standoff over the results of the June 28, 2009 parliamentary elections, which Berisha’s party narrowly won.

The Socialists blame alleged electoral fraud by the government for their loss and have sought a recount of election ballots. The government has stubbornly refused the recount as unconstitutional, arguing that it is a decision for the courts to take.

Although a similar meeting was held in Strasbourg last month, both leaders continue to disagree on the powers and procedures that should be followed by the parliamentary commission charged with investigating alleged fraud in the elections.

Rama and Berisha met with representatives of the European Parliament in France on May 20. EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele was also present for the talks.

A group of legal experts from Brussels visited Albania after the meeting in an effort to find points that might bring the stances of the two Albanian political parties closer.

EU officials have previously warned that the country risks having its application for candidate status frozen unless a compromise to the crisis is reached.

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