WASHINGTON—Ahead of this Sunday’s municipal elections in Albania, Helsinki Commission Chairman Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) and Commissioner Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) issued the following statement:
“The people of Albania deserve a fair chance to elect the responsive, honest local government that is vital to helping them achieve their aspirations to rule of law and prosperity. Albanian citizens must be able to have confidence that they are participating in a transparent electoral process, free from intimidation, harassment, or attacks on candidates, the media, election officials, or voters.
“Unfortunately, these are all ongoing areas of concern in Albania, and we hope that these elections will be closely observed by the international community, especially the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and by domestic groups within Albania itself.”
According to the OSCE, Sunday’s elections for mayors and local councils are the first elections to be conducted for new local government units introduced by parliament in 2014 and will see 61 newly formed municipalities, replacing 373 municipalities and communes.
For 25 years, the U.S. Helsinki Commission has monitored and encouraged Albania in its implementation of OSCE commitments through visits to the country, congressional hearings and briefings, and periodic statements. In addition to serving as a Helsinki Commissioner, Rep. Aderholt is currently a Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.