Faced with strong local and international pressure, the majority of the Albanian Parliament, controlled by Prime Minister Edi Rama's Socialist Party, backed down and decided to postpone the discussion by deleting the debate on the Audiovisual Media Law of the "anti-defamation package" and rejected by the president.
The socialist group leader, Taulant Balla, said that the vote will be postponed pending the Commission of Venice, the Council of Europe's consultative body, to express its opinion on 20-21 March. "We ask that the debate remain on the agenda, but the discussion should be postponed until the Venice Commission, on 20 or 21 March, has given its opinion, as we did on the occasion of the justice reform, where this Commission has made serious proposals that we have accepted, in addition to the other laws that we have improved based on their indications ".
The amendments to the Audiovisual Media and Electronic Communications Act have been contested by the Albanian journalist community and other international institutions.
Immediately after Parliament's vote, the EU Ambassador to Tirana reacted via Twitter, Luigi Soreca, who welcomed Parliament's decision on the postponement, stating “We welcome the decision of the government majority to postpone the vote on the Audiovisual Media Act. We look forward to the opinion of the Venice Commission and encourage the authorities to respond to the growing concerns of media organizations and the international community. "
even the European Center for Media and Press Freedom (the European Center for Press and Media Freedom), reacted on Twitter: “Small victory: we welcome the decision of the Albanian parliament to suspend the approval of the changes to the media law until the Venice Commission has expressed its opinion. We continue to closely monitor further developments on the case in Albania ".
Two weeks ago the President of the Republic Ilir Metahad rejected the media law passed by parliament in late December last year. The Head of State argued in his motives that the legislation is "In violation of the fundamental principles of a rule of law; the right of expression and information ". Interviewed today by the media, he commented on Parliament's decision, where he said he appreciated this choice. "I welcome Parliament's positive decision to postpone the discussion of the so-called" anti-defamation package "Said Meta.
even the Democratic Party he reacted after the Socialist Party's decision to postpone the President's discussion of the rejection of the law included in the anti-defamation package. Former Democratic Party MP Albana Vokshi calls it a victory for free speech.
“Freedom of speech has won. Edi Rama has sworn for weeks that he would have the censorship package against online media voted in parliament. He withdrew today from an unconstitutional initiative against which journalists, the opposition, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the OSCE protested.
The arguments used to overthrow the President's decree, which rejected the law as unconstitutional, ended up being empty propaganda. We have won a battle over the just cause. Edi Rama had passed a law that threatened journalists and online media with jail time, closings and fines. Edi Rama's power is crumbling day after day. Together, we can safeguard our freedoms, freedom of expression, freedom of vote, freedom of choice ".
Responding to the media on the reasons that forced parliament to postpone the "anti-defamation package", pending an opinion from the Venice Commission, the official of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Bas Klein, he replied that there are many concerns about the law, and that a general debate is needed.
“We asked the Venice Commission for an opinion as there are many questions about this law. Many fear that some of its provisions are not in line with European media and freedom of expression rules. We didn't ask specific questions, but asked for a general opinion on the law ", says Council of Europe official Bas Klein.
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