Albania’s president claimed his country avoided a plot by George Soros to destabilised the country.
Ilir Meta claimed the billionaire was behind a ‘conspiracy’ to seize control of the state be interfering in local elections at the weekend.
The Albanian president accused the investor and philanthropist of being responsible for a political scheme after the main opposition parties refused to take part in the country’s local elections on Sunday.
Meta’s former party, the Socialist Movement for Integration, was also one of the parties that did not take part in the vote, according to regional newspaper Balkan Insight.
The opposition threatened to disrupt the poll on Sunday, but did not do so, leaving Meta to declare that ‘Albanians didn’t fall prey to the provocations’.
Albania’s president Ilir Meta during a press conference in Tirana yesterday. He accused George Soros of behind behind a conspiracy to destabilise the country’s local elections
George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations, is often the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories after donating millions to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign
He had tried to cancel the elections, saying they would be undemocratic without the participation of Albania’s opposition, which boycotted the vote.
Stating that the municipal elections were a ‘farce’, Meta urged new polls to resolve the country’s political crisis.
The opposition has claimed that the low turnout – 21.6 per cent – showed that Sunday’s elections were unconstitutional and illegal.
Without offering any evidence, Meta described the alleged plot as ‘a conspiracy aimed at totally capturing the state’, claiming Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned him about Soros in 2000.
But Prime Minister Edi Rama of the ruling Socialist Party ordered the elections for mayors and local council members held Sunday, and his party is expected to receive the most votes by a significant margin.
Albania’s opposition Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha addresses to his supporters in front of government headquarters in June
During a press conference yesterday, Meta reportedly said: ‘I do have some words about honoured billionaire George Soros.
‘I failed to listen carefully to Viktor Orban in January 2000, when I was speaking with love about George Soros because truth be told, he helped us when we were in opposition, and [Orban] told me: ”Be aware because he is not that democratic and often conspires against democracy”.’
He also lashed out at the international community, including the US and the European Union, calling on diplomats ‘to not become ridiculous and not play with our constitution’.
Preliminary results were expected on Tuesday but were delayed.
International observers said Albania’s political parties showed little regard to voters during weekend elections, adding that ‘voters were pressured by all political sides’.
Lulzim Basha addressing his supporters ahead of the controversial municipal elections at the weekend
Meta has proposed new local and early general elections in October, but the suggestion is unlikely to be accepted by the Socialists, who are continuing attempts to oust him.
Opposition centre-right lawmakers relinquished their seats in parliament and have led protests since mid-February, accusing the government of corruption and vote-rigging in previous elections.
Rama and his party deny the allegations made by Meta.
Meta was elected president in 2017 with the support of Rama Socialist Party.
But the Albanian parliament, which is controlled by Rama, has put Meta under investigation and is trying to fire him as president.
Soros is regularly the target of right-wing conspiracy theories after he donated millions of dollars to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Hungary’s nationalist government last year passed a ‘Stop Soros’ bill, making it illegal for non-governmental organisations, such as his Open Society Foundations, to move foreign nationals into the country.