TIRANA: Albania's Constitutional Court on Monday ruled in favour of a controversial deal signed with Italy to host two holding centres for migrants rescued in Italian waters.
The agreement has been condemned by opposition parties in both countries, as well as rights groups, resulting in a legal challenge taken up by the top court in Tirana.
“The agreement does not harm Albania´s territorial integrity,” the court said in a statement that backed the deal.
The ruling by the court comes just days after Italian MPs voted in favour of the agreement -- with the lower chamber of parliament backing the protocol by 155 votes to 115, along with two abstentions.
The text now goes to the Senate, where it is also expected to be approved.
The accord allows for two centres to be established near the Albanian port of Shengjin, where migrants would register for asylum, as well as a facility in the same region to house those awaiting a response to their applications.
The two centres -- to be managed by Italy -- would accommodate up to 3,000 migrants per month, according to official estimates.
They estimated the cost at more than 650 million euros over the five-year term of the accord.
The Albanian right-wing opposition has lambasted Prime Minister Edi Rama for an alleged lack of transparency over the agreement, calling the deal an “irresponsible and dangerous act for national security”.
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