It was already difficult to take Albanian diplomacy seriously after Prime Minister Edi Rama nominated himself as Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and then delegated all his duties (except, of course, his seat on the Council of Ministers) to Acting Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Gent Cakaj, a twenty-something from Kosovo who is a self-professed “fan of Kant because in reason we trust.”
Apart from the fact that only first-year philosophy bachelor students are “fans” of a particular philosopher, one wonders why such a strong partisan of reason has chosen to serve under arguably one of the most unreasonable figures to lead a European country. Maybe he simply displaced Kant’s categorical imperative with Rama’s imperative. Close enough, Acting Minister Cakaj must have thought!
Anyhow, just a few weeks in, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has managed to lose 100 passports in Greece after transporting them by bus in plastic bags.
On February 13, the company ALEAT, which in 2008 won a 15-year concession on printing passports for the Albanian state, sent a batch of new passports printed for Albanian diaspora meant to be delivered at the Embassy of Albania in Athens, packed in plastic bags, on the bus to Greece.
According to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, consular post such as a shipment of passports should be packaged in a properly marked consular bag, accompanied by a consular courier with an official document indicating his status and the number of packages in the bag. Only when shipped by aircraft or ship, the consular bag may be entrusted to the captain directly. Nevertheless, the Albanian Embassy in Athens had authorized the bus company Top Lines to pick up the passports from ALEAT and there was no courier on the bus.
No consular bag, no consular courier, and the bus driver was not a captain. So for obvious reasons, the Greek border patrol confiscated the passports, assuming they were fakes. The Consul General of the Republic of Albania in Ioannina, Pervin Gjikuria, went to pick up the passports at the border crossing of Kakavija, and the Albanian Consul at Janina, telling newspaper Panorama that “there was nothing to worry about.”
Yet that same night, the car in which the courier from the consulate had been transporting the passports was broken into, and 100 passports stolen.
The statement of Cakaj’s ministry raises more questions than that it provides answers. According to the ministry, the Consul General “made a stop over at Agion Asomaton Street in the neighborhood of Thisio, Athens, from 22.50 to 00.10, during which time the diplomatic car he was driving, was vandalized and robbed.”
First of all, what was the Consul General doing for more than an hour around midnight away from his car in Agion Asomaton? The only building of public interest in that street is a hammam! As you can see from the following map, driving from Kakavija, the Albanian embassy on Vekiareli 7 is a single right turn from the highway:
But instead of driving directly to the embassy with its precious cargo, the courier clearly made a detour, got out of the car, and spent 1 hour and 20 minutes at an unknown location while leaving the bag with passports inside the car!
Why was this one of the stops? It was not dinner time, and the embassy was only 30 minutes away. I invite anyone to have a look on Google Streetview at Agion Asomaton and judge for themselves whether this is a good place for Consul General to park a CD car at midnight and leave a bag of passports inside for more than an hour. This raises the question whether those who stole the passports were tipped off about the shipment, and whether the Gjiknuria’s stop in a dingy street was on purpose.
So far, no one at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, the Consulate in Ioannina, or the Embassy in Athens has taken any responsibility for this series absurd mistakes, which no doubt has played into the hands of Albanian criminal groups, now possessing a stock of 100 freshly printed passports. So Acting Minister Cakaj, maybe you should ask yourself, what would Kant have done?