The mission was difficult, if not to say embarrassing: to go to Albania, invited by a government that a few months ago removed its Minister of Interior, who for long had been supported by the Italian technical and diplomatic mission in the country, under the accusation of collaboration with narco-traffickers – accusations that arose precisely from Italian court documents – while receiving information that “shows,” once again, that the Albanian government is truly fighting cannabis cultivation.
So, to publicly support, with data from the Guardia di Finanza mission, the same arguments that only recently were uttered by officials of the Ministry of Interior, even though recent news events have rendered these completely unsupportable.
A stupidity may be said once, to repeat it for a second time is very risky, especially when the institution and not the individual does the speaking. And here the Italian Minister of Interior would speak, not just an ordinary official, randomly plucked out of some international mission.
But Marco Minniti, pilot from a dynasty of pilots, is someone who has passed half of his political life directing or controlling national security structures, those that nowadays determine foreign policy and in the end also diplomacy. The presentation of the aerial anti-drug surveillance results was a moment that our pilot Minniti didn’t want miss, also in order to show how he is able to move around the hot potatoes that so frequently show up on the plate of members of the government.
In this, his political experience and diplomatic craft served him well, despite the narrative and scenography organized to spin his words.
In front of a large audience of police officers and diplomats, waiting for nearly half an hour so Minister Minniti could finish his meeting with President Ilir Meta, a general of the Guardia die Finanza expounds the details and numbers of the aerial surveillance flights, giving the results for each year. But differently from those who stood in his place a year ago, he expressed the results in numbers of plantations, not in percentages: 304 in 2013, 815 in 2014, 1368 in 2015, and in 2016 – “a record year” – 2086 plantations.
This year, however, the trend has reversed, with only 90 plantations discovered. But while in 2016 his predecessor declared there was no problem, the general finished his presentation by confirming, for the first time in fact, that there has been in undoubtable growth.
He is followed by the General Commander of the Guardia di Finanza, who opens another painful chapter, the one about the traffic and seizures in Italy: from 12 tons in 2016 to 33 tons so far this year. And that’s exactly the message: your problem hasn’t ended. Fine that you stopped production, but the war goes on. Now you have to stop the trafficking of all that’s been stored.
At this point it’s the turn of the guest of honor, slyly smiling, to start with the old song of the emotions he felt when driving on the road from the airport, where everything had changed; things could be done indeed. Then he turned, with fatherly words, to the young police officers – “you were children” – to stress his right to speak from his undeniable experience, while also praising the cross-border collaboration and shared successes.
Someone in the room, or perhaps backstage, thought that this time the Italians let themselves be used completely, but then, with a masterful stroke, came the unexpected punch:
We now need to hit the traffickers, the large organizations that manage the traffic, we have to hit to untouchables, because in Italy, in Albania, and in Europe there are no untouchables. I think that this is an important objective for which we need to work together.
He then announced, perhaps to threaten someone, that the entire Italian system, from police officers to judges, would be involved in this issue.
Finally he also gave some homework, by mentioning the three largest challenges for which “full and conscious international collaboration” was necessary: narco-trafficking, illegal emigration, and terrorism.
He was followed by the Albanian Minister of Interior Fatmir Xhafaj, who emphasized that after the blossoming of cannabis production in 2016, perhaps because of “euphoria or incompetence,” he has started its eradication since March 2017, as he had promised. Today he said he did, and promised that, with the help of the Italians, he would do so also in the future.
After the applause, Minniti still had time to meet opposition leader Lulzim Basha, who smartly didn’t comment.
So, the blame will be put on Tahiri, and maybe someone else who, in spite of the baseless statements of the media of the regime, is not in the room and who, because of the unexpected postponement of Minniti’s visit, didn’t even meet him for the obligatory photo op.
It appears that he had to leave for Morocco, another large cannabis producer, to one of these conferences organized by an NGO, maybe to give a lecture on how to fight appearances.
Certainly, had he been in that room just like many would have wanted him to be, the effect would have different, and above all less credible – and that’s exactly why Minniti is considered an old fox.
At 8 o’clock in the evening, the mouthpieces of the Renaissance still didn’t find their words, while on the other side of the Boulevard, and not only there, it was time for champagne.