It might be difficult for some Albanians to pronounce the name Fleckenstein, but I believe all of them had no problems understanding the europarlamentarian’s words, delivered in the usual internationals-speak in Tirana a few days ago. The message transmitted on behalf of Brussels might have worried some opposition members, whilst a whole battalion of government propaganda army rushed to translate Fleckenstein’s statements in their favor.
The repeated scheme is clear for most people who are mostly interested in their own issues. It is clear to them that neither the day nor the career of a well-paid foreigner who speaks of his/her “care about Albanians and concern about reforms” is actually affected by the situation in Albania. The only thing that could slightly jeopardize a europarlamentarian’s workday is instability in a country like Albania. As a solution and for the sake of opening negotiations with the EU – which has been promised to all governments in Albania in the last 20 years – they have adopted the proverbial principle “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” when faced with the mass cultivation of cannabis, criminalization of politics and society, and criticism against the governments.
In the series of statements in English and Albanian, full of the usual phrases of “parliamentary life”, “co-operation for the sake of reforms” or “opening negotiations”, the MEPs forgot to mention the buying of votes, which is the origin of opposition MPs’ resignation from mandates, and no doubt the main cause of possibly the worst crisis in the history of the pluralist parliament in Albania.
Few of the English-speaking MEPs have heard about the infamous “File 339”, wiretaps of which revealed the buying of votes by socialist politicians in collusion with criminal groups during the 2017 election. I am sure those who welcome, hug and accompany Brussels delegations to Albania are always careful to hide the real problems here. I am sure that they describe the opposition’s complaints as attempts to come to power by avoiding the general vote. Unfortunately, this situation has kept repeating since Albania started its bid to enter the EU. But I am equally convinced that during these difficult years on our journey towards the EU there has been no worse and clearer case of vote-buying and incriminated senior state officials than the case of the socialist majority in power.
The collusion of Mayor of Durres Vangjush Dako with a dangerous criminal group to buy votes is not an invention of the opposition but a well-known fact. It is also not a rumor that other socialist majority MPs and former ministers are wiretapped in phone calls with wanted criminals while making arrangements to buy votes.
The full evidence in File 339, of which very little has leaked in the media, allegedly shows that protagonists in the wiretaps of criminal groups are people with political power. They are anxiously waiting for VOA’s daily news or Edi Rama’s and Serious Crimes Prosecutor Donika Prela’s moves. That is because investigations into criminals included in this file have been only superficial. The said case was taken from the hands of prosecutors who started it, as a service by Head of Durres Prosecution Donika Prela in order to secure that she would pass the vetting. File 339 is the thin threat that still keeps Edi Rama in power.
However, no statement by the prosecution – however deliberately unclear – can hide the fact that Vangjush Dako is not being investigated and that his “advocates” are the Prela-Rama couple. Whilst Prela delivered her service so that she could pass the vetting process, Rama would have probably not spared Mayor Dako were he not afraid of the chain reaction that an investigation into the most important socialist in Durres could spur.
Rama is not afraid only because the investigation could result in criminal charges against Vangjush Dako. He is also insecure for the simple fact that the opening of a proper investigation would reveal the involvement of other MPs talking freely with bandits and being in the company of drug traffickers. At the end of the day, even though Rama may ask them to spend some short time behind bars for the sake of opening negotiations with EU – thus washing delivering something concrete to the internationals – the criminals would not be willing to sacrifice even a few hours of their freedom for Edi Rama’s sake.
At a quick glance, just a few pages of the thick file with wiretaps carried out by international partners (not those who visit Albania often and meet with politicians) were enough to reveal that legally speaking Albania has a dysfunctional prosecution office and politically speaking it is in a parliamentary crisis.
It would be a rhetorical question to ask who has been obstructing the investigations.On the other hand, as more pages of the File 339 are expected to reach the public and even more important names than Vangjush Dako are expected to be revealed, the state institutions have failed in their duty to present the truth to the public. It’s only some parts of the media that remain steadfast in attempting to reveal related information.
It is understandable that given the circumstances some internationals find it difficult to grasp the truth of the vote buying, the reasons why the investigations into suspects have not initiated, or the reasons why some MPs or former ministers can’t find peace while waiting what new wiretaps the media will publish. All these people fearing the findings of wiretaps are also afraid that one day PM Rama and Prosecutor Prela might just be pressured to sacrifice each of them.
However, no one would accept to be sacrificed in this way. Saimir Tahiri did not accept. His former colleagues would also not accept. Still, when the pressure grows and the English-speaking internationals demand a sacrifice, this will not be Edi Rama’s book with the same title, but the “heads” of several politicians.
Until then, no one will be surprised that guests arriving from Brussels will be preaching in the same way as Knut Fleckenstein did during his last visit.