Yuri Kim’s first diplomatic victory in Albania

By Mero Baze

The return of the opposition parties in the electoral reform roundtable and the neutralising of Ilir Meta’s attempts to bargain with the justice reform can be considered as the first diplomatic victory of US ambassador Yuri Kim in Albania. 

Following Edi Rama’s actions with the demolition of the National Theatre, a new boycott plan similar to that of 2017 and 2019 was being established.

President Ilir Meta sought to take over the representation of the opposition and began to bargain with the electoral and justice reform on their behalf while on the other hand, the majority in power had little to offer to return them to the table. 

The diplomatic actions of the US Ambassador in the last 24 hours look similar to school teachers who not only give students homework, but also closely observe their progress with assignment each hour. This led to all opposition leaders publicly accepting the return into the electoral reform roundtable and prevented the well-known repeated scenario where everything is left for the last minute and subsequent abandoning of the table by the opposition while inventing new reasons of why they shouldn’t participate in elections, in order to ultimately negotiate them with the government. 

After persistently requesting PM Edi Rama not to provoke the opposition and to extend his cooperation, it looks that the Ambassador’s individual work with both leaders made them to completely change course within the span of a few hours.

More importantly, these change of attitude was against the public will of President Meta, who seems to have return to his troubled paranoias with members of international community that seek to politically and physically murder him, falsely believing that somehow his ‘murder’ by this international clique would be praised by Albanians as an act of martyr.  

EU Ambassador and other important members of the international community have shared the same view with the US Ambassador, which has further strengthened the diplomatic actions of Yuri Kim. It is the first time that an American diplomat has timely reacted to the political crisis developing in Albania, thereby not allowing the repetition of the same old scenario where the electoral reformed is dragged to the expiry of deadlines and then there is a rise of new arguments for a last minute political bargaining. 

Taking over the reins of Ambassador Donald Lu, who finalised the approval of the justice reform, the new Ambassador Yuri Kim must handle the machinations and traps that the political leaders from both sides are seeking to set to the justice reform, starting from the lists of eligible candidates, to the Kafkian bureaucracies that are blocking the completion of the Constitutional and Supreme Court.  

The alarm raised by her and other Western ambassador when they saw how the political agenda during the last 48 hours was leading to a bargaining seeking to condition the justice reform with the electoral reform, made the US Ambassador to tweet an angry post, to which Edi Rama and Lulzim Basha responded immediately. The latter was particularly concerned in writing a text in which no one would understand his thoughts and intentions.

The 24 hours  following the posts changed everything. It will not prevent Lulzim Basha trying to bargain with the elections or to block the justice reform but at least it demonstrates that both Lulzim Basha and Edi Rama are under close monitoring as to who is really willing respect OSCE/ODIHR principles with regards to the electoral reform and who is really willing to change the electoral system, which has turned into a national obsession as the mother of all evil in this country. 

Now, the projectors are shifted from the ruins of the Theatre to the electoral reform. And it is difficult to re-shift them because it seems obvious that the keys are held by people which cannot be blackmailed and pressured by either Rama nor Basha, let alone Berisha and Meta. 

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