Lidington: We urge everyone not to allow a repeat of the events of last Friday

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London, January 27, 2011 NOA - British Minister for Europe, Mr David Lidington, today made the following statement on the political situation in Albania:

“I deeply regret the violence and loss of life during last Friday’s protest in Tirana. The images of Tirana that we saw on our TV screens last week are not what we would want to see from a country aspiring to EU membership.

The best way now to show respect for the victims, respect for those amongst the police who behaved with restraint and professionalism, is to ensure a full, independent criminal investigation into the events of last Friday, particularly the shootings.

I strongly urge the Albanian authorities to co-operate fully with the Prosecutor General’s investigation and the political parties to refrain from attacking the integrity of Albania’s independent institutions and hindering the due process of the rule of law.

Justice cannot be delivered overnight. The US Government has offered important expert support to the Prosecutor General that will help speed the process. EU envoy Lajcak made clear during his visit to Tirana yesterday that the EU, including the UK, also stands ready to assist.

Even with international support, a credible investigation will take time.

During this important and delicate moment, with Albania’s international credibility at stake, further rallies, however peaceful their intention, could spark further confrontations. We urge everyone not to allow a repeat of the events of last Friday.”