US Ambassador Donald Lu Thanks Civil Society for Tahiri’s Resignation

Today, US ambassador Donald Lu has thanked civil society for being an influence in the decision of former Minister of Interior Affairs Saimir Tahiri to resign, and the enforcement of the decriminalization law. During a conference with civil society organizations, the ambassador declared:

Civil society is largely led by women and young people with energy, enthusiasm and optimism. And civil society can play an important watchdog role against corruption. When I said that, I knew there were skeptical people who said that civil society is weak and only works for its own interests.

They said that civil society was bought by the Socialists, the Democrats or the LSI. I have a different view. I can see that civil society has achieved amazing victories in the last three years. On decriminalization, brave journalists were willing to write about Arben Ndoka, Elvis Rroshi, Mark Froku, Aqif Rakipi, Shukri Xhalili, Koço Kokodhima and Dashamir Tahiri.

Civil society appears to have played no role in Tahiri’s decision to resign from Parliament. During his statement, Lu asked for the help of civil society in putting an end to organized crime and drug trafficking in the country, openly ignoring the actually responsible institutions, such as the police and prosecution office.

Lastly, if we can encourage the politicians and prosecutors to finally lift the impunity for these criminals, then Albania will have a very bright future. A future in the European Union. A future without illegal drug trafficking. A future in which regular citizens no longer fear corruption or organized crime.

Albanian NGOs and journalists should be working to help the public to understand why these people are so dangerous and to raise expectations that they will soon be arrested and prosecuted.

Ambassador Lu further pointed out Met Kanani, arrested in Turkey by the local authorities, as a “big fish.”

Albania has supported the capture of one big fish drug trafficker, Met Kanani, who was arrested in Turkey on March 22.

Lu also praised the release of arrest warrants for Klement Balili dhe Arbër Cekaj, but failed to mention how these traffickers managed to leave the country.

There are arrest orders for two more major traffickers, Klement Balili and Arbër Çekaj, but they must be captured.

Çekaj was captured today by the German police. Meanwhile, Lu said nothing about the email he sent former General Prosecutor Adriatik Llalla in which Lu asked Llalla to stop a criminal investigation of Bankers Petroleum for an explosion which damaged about 200 houses in Patos-Marinëz, Fier in 2015.