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A protest by supporters of Albania’s main opposition party demanding a caretaker Cabinet to take the country to parliamentary elections, May 13, 2017 (AP photo by Hektor Pustina).

Is Albania the EU’s Next Headache in the Balkans?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Albania’s “on again, off again” election is back on after the opposition ended its threat of a boycott last month. But allegations of a spiraling drug-trafficking problem, and claims and counterclaims of criminal links to politics, are still an unedifying sight in a European Union candidate state. Prolonged political deadlock over recent months is a sign not only of Albania’s deep political divisions and dysfunctions, but also of the EU’s limited ability to use its leverage in the increasingly restive Western Balkans.

On May 22, Albania’s government confirmed a deal that put opposition figures into government positions, a compromise that cleared the way for an election on June 25, a week later than planned. The compromise came after pressure from both the EU and the United States for the opposition to call off its threatened boycott of the vote, and for the government to give some ground to allow a competitive poll to take place. ...

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