“Criminal groups with a link to Albania play a big role in organized crime in the Netherlands. […] We help Albania with strengthening the rule of law and dealing with corruption. We collaborate in the field of justice and the police by sharing knowledge and information. But there is room for improvement. I asked them to address this. This will aid the struggle against organized crime in Albania and the Netherlands.”
In an interview with a local newspaper Minister Grapperhaus stressed the large-scale problem of Albanian crime in the Netherlands:
“Within the cocaine trade they have integrated in the entire network, from South America to the transports to the Rotterdam harbor.”
Recently, three Dutch MPs – Madeleine van Toorenburg (CDA, Christian Democrats), Jasper van Dijk (Socialist Party), and Sietse Fritsma (PVV, Freedom Party) gave an interview in daily newspaper De Telegraaf suggesting that the Netherlands should initiate the procedure to reinstate visa for Albania. This has been previously suggested by the Christian Democrats and the Liberals, as well as the police forces and the prosecution. The visa suspension mechanism report from 2017 saw no reason to reinstate visa for Albanian citizens, but noted the rise of Albanian crime as worrying factor.
In a response on media outlet A2, Deputy Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Etjen Xhafaj downplayed the concerns of the Dutch MPs, saying that they represent the extreme right and extreme left and use the issue of Albanian crime for electoral purposes. Van Toorenburg, however, represents one of the parties currently in government. The Dutch Parliament counts as one of the most skeptical voices in the EU as regards Albanian EU integration, and in 2018 prevented the Dutch government from voting in favor of Albania’s EU accession.
Deputy Minister Xhafaj also denounced the “myth of Albanian crime,” a line adopted by the Rama government. Two years ago, Albanian Ambassador to the Netherlands Adia Sakiqi claimed that the Netherlands should first deal with its legalized marijuana and prostitution before making claims about Albanian crime.