It’s remarkable how predictable Rama’s international propaganda machinery has become, simply because so few voices are part of it. It is either the Prime Minister himself, someone from Tony Blair’s stable of misfits, or Bernard Kouchner. These are all the international voices our current leader is able to muster on the international stages, and none of them offer a hopeful prospect of his political future. Yes they may still skirt around in the lecture circuit and moonshine as consultants to the occasional dictator, but their influence approaches zero.
Today it was Kouchner’s turn to jump to the Prime Minister’s rescue with some freshly distorted facts, after the scandalous display of Arta Marku’s election as Temporary Prosecutor General. His venue is the website EU Observer and the opinion piece is called “2018 Will Be Important for Western Balkans.” In the article, Kouchner makes a case for Albania to move higher up on the list of potential accession candidates, because Albanians are “pro-EU” and the Rama government is so good at reforming. Let’s have a look:
Take Albania: Polls consistently show over 80 percent of its citizens want to join the EU. This shouldn’t in itself qualify the nation for membership. But where there is a strong consensus for accession, history tells us that the institutional and policy reforms required for accession are much easier to implement.
In fact, Albania is proving this to be true. For over a year, its opposition Democratic Party fought furiously against particular aspects of the reform package the EU has asked of the Socialist Party government.
The result? Prime minister Edi Rama’s Socialists were returned to power in June with a clear majority.
Like several others of Rama’s international friends, Kouchner interprets Rama’s electoral victory as a pro-EU victory. This is the same argument as found in a longer opinion piece Kouchner wrote in June before the elections, in which he did nothing else than copying Rama’s campaign rhetoric and elevating it to “opinion.”
Both PS and PD have been pro-EU for years, but the difference is – as always – that the opposition fears that the government will use the implementation of EU-imposed reforms in order to consolidate its power. That Kouchner interprets this fear – which often is more than warranted – as a rejection of the EU itself is a gross and painful misunderstanding.
His analysis, of course, does not take into account the vote buying strategies of the different parties, which were recently reiterated by OSCE, and a pre-electoral political agreement which trumped the rule of law, again as concluded by the OSCE. These two facts should be taken into account in any evaluation of the PS’s electoral victory but are conveniently left out by Kouchner.
But Kouchner goes further. He also casts the opposition against the one-sided and unconstitutional election of Arta Marku as Temporary Prosecutor General as resistance against reforms:
But the opposition is still resisting these reforms, as witness some shocking scenes of chaos and disruption recently in the Albanian parliament, when the minority Democrats tried to block the appointment of a new prosecutor general.
“The people of Albania should not be surprised that their politicians are fighting amongst themselves,” a tartly-worded statement from the US embassy observed. “This means the judicial reform is finally being implemented.” It added: “The prosecutor general who refused to prosecute politicians is gone.”
So let us first observe that Arta Marku is not a “new prosecutor general.” This is a factual error of Kouchner’s, and a considerable one at that. Marku is a Temporary Prosecutor General, and the whole resistance of the opposition – despite the spectacular form it took – is based on a legal problem that can only be resolved by the Constitutional Court, and not by less than half of Parliament.
Kouchner then continues to cite a press release of the US Embassy, whose incoherent nonsense I already took apart elsewhere.
Finally, Kouchner utters the following hollow “other” words:
In other words, with reforms now at an advanced stage, this is exactly the wrong moment for the EU to keep Albania at the back of the queue. It is time to send a strong message to the Albanian voters that their support for reform and for the EU is having an impact.
These are not “other words”; reforms are far from an “advanced stage.” In fact, major components of the judicial reform, including the High Prosecutorial Council, High Judicial Council, National Investigation Bureau, Special Prosecutor, Council of Judicial Nominations, etc. have – all in violation of the Constitution – not been installed in a timely fashion by the “resounding majority” of the government. Instead, the government has stalled many of these processes, throwing the country into a constitutional crisis which will undermine – either in the short or the long term – any of the successes that could have been gained from the reform itself.
But finally, in what is probably one of his more disgusting rhetorical moves, Kouchner argues that the EU should reward the Albanian citizens for their support to the EU. He conflates that reason for citizens’ support and enthusiasm for the EU (it’s the only way out of unemployment, poverty, failing healthcare and education systems) with the reason why politicians support it (more EU money flowing into the pockets of a politically engrained oligarchy).
In other words: Albanian citizens support the EU against their government, while the Albanian government supports the EU against the interests of its people. To blur the borders between these two contrary motivations is the greatest sin, and Kouchner’s main aim.