That the Justice Reform would be a failure has been predicted by not a few, but emblematic remains the prediction of the Venice Commission expressed in its Interim Opinion adopted in December 2015:
It must be remembered, however, that such radical solution would be ill-advised in normal conditions, since it creates enormous tensions within the judiciary, destabilises its work, augments public distrust in the judiciary, diverts the judges’ attention from their normal tasks, and, as every extraordinary measure, creates a risk of the capture of the judiciary by the political force which controls the process.
There is ample proof that this is precisely what has happened. It has even surpassed the imagination of the Venice Commission, because at the time no one would think that “destabilizing” the work of the judiciary meant to leave the country without Constitutional Court, without High Court, that the School of Magistrates would be blocked, etc. Moreover, as regards the “capture,” no one imagined that on top of the reform we would have Arta Marku as General Prosecutor, who with her actions and lack of action behaves like a kamikaze of the Socialist majority. (It’s enough to consider the way in which she behaved against the Kukës protesters or the case of Fatmir Xhafaj’s brother on the one hand, and on the other her silence regarding the theft of public property that is happening with the National Theater.)
The question that arises is: How is it possible that the internationals who were considered to be a guarantee for the Reform continue to praise it as a successful project and insist on the continuation of the process by which Edi Rama is capturing the judiciary?
Of course, we cannot put all the internationals in a single basket, just as there is no single explanation. But some of the reasons appear to me to be clearcut.
A Feeling of Superiority
Following the activity and statements of EU Ambassador Romana Vlahutin or US Ambassador Donald Lu (who championed the Reform), as well as EU functionaries such as Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn, you cannot but conclude that a position of superiority dictates and imposes solutions that Albanians should accept without discussion. We have not seen any dialogue with any Albanians except the PS majority at the moment when it was decided that the reform would be implemented. The work was prepared under the cover of the Soros Foundation, which already for years no longer works as counterpart of the government, but as “crowbar” of Edi Rama’s party, helping the preparation of a draft that openly displayed the aim of the majority to place the judiciary in the hands of the government. Vlahutin declared that this draft could be voted even without the approval of the opposition.
This attitude of superiority which dictates and does not engage in dialogue, which collaborates only with those in power, continues even today, lest there be raised any reasonable doubt with these internationals, despite the tangible failure and the daily scandals of the Rama government, which show that this category of politicians have no respect for law and justice.
Ignorance and Manipulation
When I wrote a well-known person how it was possible that Italian Ambassador Alberto Cutillio doesn’t respond to what it happened with the National Theater (considering the violation not only of the Albanian Constitution and the Stabilization and Association Agreement, but also of cultural heritage takes links us with Italy and for which the Italian Cultural Institute has funded the promotion) he answered me: “He maybe doesn’t know the whole story because he arrived in Albania two years ago. And the embassy is not the seat of the KGB where they know everything about everyone.”
The question you ask yourself is: So if they have such a shallow knowledge of the Albanian reality, why do they support without reservation things that require a knowledge that is much deeper than being familiar with the architectural history of Tirana, such as the relation between politics and the judiciary in Albania?
In my opinion this not only an issue of shallow knowledge, but also of manipulation. By now it is known that there is a group of Albanian activists and others which in one way or another have been captured by the majority, mainly through the power of money, and who have no other job than to circulate through the embassies and offer their “independent” opinion in favor of what is happening in Albania.
Another reason is the a priori support without any critical thought of the center-left European parties, who consider the party of Edi Rama as part of their European family. There are two reasons for this support: First, the mistaken idea that the PS is a left-wing party. Rather, it is the most shameless tool of the oligarchy and the criminal economy, which reduced the weakest layers of society of poverty and desperation. Second, the fact that also in the West center-left parties no longer have any consideration for the vulnerable part of society, which has also caused a drop in their popularity. Otherwise, Edi Rama wouldn’t have dared to openly boast to former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi that in Albania there are no labor unions as in Italy, and that therefore Italian companies should move to Albania.
Conflicts of Interest
Minimal common sense would dictate that it is not fair that ambassadors who work to bring chemical weapons, mujahedeen, or businesses from their own country to Albania (and which requires approval of the majority government supported by them) at the same time also build an independent judiciary, which usually should have as its main target the majority, because history shows us that the greatest wrongs in our country have always been done by the majorities. Also the need to ignore this conflict of interest have made many ambassadors fall in line with “the political force which controls the process” of the Justice Reform.
Corruption of Edi Rama & Co.
The fact that we don’t have factual proof of the corruption of certain internationals involved in the Justice Reform – although the cases of Vlahutin’s villa on Rolling Hills or the Lu’s intervention into the Albanian Prosecution on behalf of Bankers Petroleum are quite dubious – does not prevent us from posing the hypothesis of the corruption of the internationals, considering that there are now many proofs that the Rilindja politicians of Edi Rama are broadly and deeply involved in the buying and corruption of people both within and outside the country.
Because of everything I said above, I have come to the conclusion that the internationals involved in the so-called Justice Reform should no longer be considered as the hope for the solution of the problem that was created, but as a part of this problem.
This article was first published by Panorama. Translation by Exit.