TIRANA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- On the fifth day of anti-government protests, Albanian opposition leader Lulzim Basha declared Wednesday that the opposition would continue the parliamentary boycott and would escalate the protest across the country until a caretaker government is formed.
"We want free and fair elections but the only way to guarantee these, we will enter elections on June 18 with a caretaker government and not the current one," Basha told reporters.
As the opposition pitched tents in front of the prime minister's office, German member of European Parliament (MEP) and Rapporteur on Albania Knut Fleckenstein visited Albania to hold talks with the main political actors here.
Earlier the month, the European Parliament approved a resolution on Albania, proposed by Fleckenstein, where Albania's progress towards fulfilling remaining key priorities were recognized and outstanding reform steps were stated.
Fleckenstein on Tuesday said political parties here should talk and find a solution.
"I will meet Basha but I will not play the role of the negotiator and I am not going to the tents where the opposition is protesting. I think the place of opposition is in the parliament," he told reporters.
However, after Fleckenstein on Tuesday evening, Basha reiterated his stance saying that the opposition would not go back to parliament until it is sure there would be free and fair elections.
Another MEP, Eduard Kukan, said in a post on a social network that Albania's opposition had still a lot of work to do in the parliament before elections, noting that boycotting parliamentary work would not get it done.
European Commission spokesperson Maja Kocijancic stated in a press statement that Brussels encouraged political parties in Albania to have dialogue and not to abandon parliamentary work.
Meanwhile, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama declared Wednesday that he respected the will of anyone to protest, but not the organizers of protests who, according to him, wanted to use the protest in order to block the vetting process.
According to media reports, Rama has also asked socialist MPs not to get involved in commenting on the protest.
Albania is at a crucial moment in terms of the implementation of justice reforms, key to opening of EU accession talks.
Currently, some 800 judges and prosecutors have submitted their declarations where they provided data whether they had been convicted before or not. The "vetting" process is deemed as essential to justice reform as it will scan all judges and prosecutors.