Gent Cakaj’s Hasty Security Clearance Reveals Problems within DSIK

The Albanian National Security Agency (DSIK) has violated the legislation in providing security clearance to Prime Minister Rama’s nominee for Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Gent Cakaj.

This is the implication in President Meta’s letter to Prime Minister Rama yesterday, where he laid out his arguments for refusing to decree Cakaj’s nomination.

The DSIK is the agency responsible for providing security clearance for high officials – at national, NATO and EU levels – who deal with secret information in their daily work. DSIK is directly dependent on the Prime Minister’s office.

Among President Meta’s argument was the fact that Gent Cakaj obtained security clearance of the highest level from the DSIK within 24 hours following his request of January 3rd.

The fact of the matter is that Cakaj, who is 28 years old, spent several years of his life in Kosovo, Hungary, and Belgium. The DSIK is required by law to have thoroughly checked his background, including the aforementioned periods when he lived outside Albania. The very short time of response (within 24 hours) implies that the agency failed to fulfill its mission and possibly violated the law. According to the President, the DSIK didn’t follow “a proper check, according to regulation, responsibilities, criteria and procedures described in legal acts.”

On a side note, the President also revealed that Cakaj had not fulfilled the requirement to obtain security clearance while he was Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs from June to December 2018.

President’s argument might be revealing another important problem regarding the DSIK.

DSIK is a key institution in the ongoing justice reform in Albania. It provides the Independent Qualification Commission (KPK) with background checks for judges and prosecutors undergoing the vetting process. One of the main components the KPK considers in its rulings on whether magistrates can continue to exercise their duty under the new justice system is DSIK’s information on their background.

President Meta revealed that the DSIK did not comply with the legislation, hence failing the public and national interest. Besides its institutional and apparently practical dependence on the Prime Minister, DSIK’s noncompliance with the law further harms the credibility of the justice reform in Albania.