EU Defends Greek Minority Rights against Rama, But Ignores the Plight of Albanians

In the past four years, Rama’s government has ruled arbitrarily, especially in the area of urban development.

There hasn’t been any transparency, any information, or public involvement in the decision making process, the right of ownership and other fundamental rights and freedoms haven’t been respected, and Rama’s government has undertaken hundreds of urban projects without disclosing any information or projects.

Skënderbeg Square, the new national stadium, dozens of squares all over the place, hydro power plants, even in natural protected areas like Vjosa , Thethi, and Valbonaincinerators for waste burning, apartment blocks in parks and hundreds of construction projects and other interventions with environmental impact have been approved and implemented, without considering the citizens or the law.

Above all, none of the projects allowed or directly handed down by the government that has an environmental impact, have respected the Aarhus Convention for public participation in decision making, an international convention ratified by the Albanian government that has priority over our Constitution.

In many cases, hundreds and thousands of citizens have protested in the streets against the government for transparency and adherence to the rule of law, have signed petitions, have written to foreign embassies and international institutions, but they were left unheard, ignored, and isolated.

Neither the media, nor the intellectuals or environmental or human rights organizations, nor the international organizations or donors, nor foreign partners or their representatives in Tirana have said a word, but they noticed with contempt the violation of the legal rights of the citizens, nature and the environment by Rama’s government.

Throughout this massive disregard, what became apparent was the total silence of the Ambassador of EU, Romana Vlahutin, who except for selling her judicial reform propaganda to the Albanians, has shown a total disregard toward the daily violations of the rights of Albanian citizens by her partner-in-reform, Prime Minister Edi Rama.

This indifference is once more incomprehensible, because different from other ambassadors present in Tirana, one of her main duties is the observation of the rule of law, the quality of government, and respect for democratic principles, as conditions for the European integration of the country.

Her indifferent attitude and that of EU ended immediately after the violation of the rights of the Greek minority, real or pretended, in Himara, regarding the construction of the square, that predicts the demolition of 12 private houses.

The residents affected protested and the Greek government sounded the alarm on violation of their property rights. Immediately after the Greek response, Brussels put pressure directly towards Rama’s government to stop the urban planning in Himara and to redo all his procedures according to the law.

So, the government has now been required to study the environmental impact, to inform the residents, to organize public hearings, and to reflect on citizen’s remarks.

According to the law, these procedures must be conducted for the process of designing the master plan and also for the approval and application of every special intervention on the ground as a result of the master plan.

It seems that the EU is ready to (rightly) speak out for the Greek minority, while it remains silent as Albanians’ rights are ignored every day.