Der Standard has published a highly critical article where it referred to Edi Rama as an “authoritarian ruler”.
The interview, conducted with Professor of Eastern European History at the University of Vienna, Oliver Schmitt, appears in the prestigious, left-wing Austrian publication and accuses Rama of exacerbating the Kosovo situation for political gain.
Schmitt, no stranger to controversy in Albania, has spoken of Rama’s desire and thirst to gain prestige in foreign and domestic policies. Schmitt states that he “acts as the leader of all Albanians” whilst going over the head of the Kosovo government.
He adds that Rama is governing a country whose population want to emigrate immediately and that one of its achievements is becoming “the most important cannabis producer in Europe.”
He continues by stating the fact that “organised crime has seized two home ministers” from Rama’s cabinet, noting that the brother of Fatmir Xhafaj has already been convicted, whilst a case has been brought against Saimir Tahiri.
Schmitt also draws attention to the protests against Rama’s “authoritarian leadership style” noting that few people are reporting the reality of it in the West.
The article– an interview between Der Standard and Schmitt accuses Rama of using the Serbian/Kosovo conflict for his own benefit and by adding fuel to the centuries long conflict between Serbia and Albania.
Der Standard asks:
“Serbian President Vučić and the Albanian Prime Minister gor a few years now, Rama have been increasingly talking about a supposedly centuries-long conflict between Serbs and Albanians, and consider it the most important task to be solved in the Balkans. What is the motivation behind this?”
To which Schmitt replies that their sole motivation is to “draw political capital from it”. He continues by describing it as a “well-known tactic” to generate international attention and support for foreign and domestic policy.
Referring to both Rama and Serbian President Vučić as authoritarian rulers, he accuses them both of wanting to “override the democratic structures and free media” in their respective countries.
The article goes on to discuss the history of the conflict between Albania, Serbia, and Kosovo drawing on religion, history, migration, and the blurring of borders.