UPDATE: Socialist Party MP Blerina Gjylameti has implied that the Bild article criticising Edi Rama and his government, was sponsored by the opposition.
She said in a statement this afternoon that the opposition “pays money to blacken Albania’s image in the world” and to negatively impact tourism and the economy, something the article published on Bild had achieved, according to Gjylameti. She further claimed that the opposition is using “dirty money coming from foreign countries […] to publish in international media the mud and defamation they recite at home.”
Gjylameti added that “in Albania no one believes an article where witnesses include a former opposition minister and a journalist of the opposition.”
She said that the “mud and defamation” published in the international media was a part of the opposition strategy.
Whilst giving the statement from the Socialist Party headquarters, Gjylameti did not elaborate on which particular bits of the article she thought were “defamatory”. Many of the statements made by Bild can actually be substantiated with wiretap recordings, facts, actual events, and of course, reports by independent and international organisations such as the US State Department.
Exit has reached out to the author of the article, Peter Tiede as well as the editors of Bild.de for comment.
Edi Rama Accused of Vote Buying by German Newspaper ‘Bild’
“Albania is a prime example of a chaotic country in the hands of a gangster”, according to German newspaper ‘Bild’.
The article entitled “Why are the Balkans burning” continues that “something is seriously wrong in the land” and that the lack of a constitutional court and ongoing protests has sunk the country into chaos.
The best-selling European newspaper which has the 16th highest circulation in the world, came down hard on Rama in an article about the ongoing opposition protests and allegations of vote rigging. The article even went as far as to claim that Rama himself had been involved in buying votes with drug money.
“On September 11, 2016 Rama called the head of a regional electoral authority to enquire whether everything was ready for the elections “as discussed”. The response from an electoral leader was “yes boss, everything as discussed.”
Rama’s own former Justice Minister Ylli Manjani spoke to the newspaper and commented that “different international organisations have confirmed that there was mass vote buying.”
When asked about the government’s alleged links to drugs and organised crime, Manjani added “the government protects the mafia and allows the drug business. In return, the gangs and clans are buying votes for the government.”
Albanian journalist Basir Çollaku who also gave comment to the news portal added “Under Edi Rama we have had an explosion of drug production in Albania.” Bild added that according to Western intelligence, more than 70% of all cannabis sold in western and south western Europe comes from Albania.
The article explained that any police trying to investigate drugs and politics are “imprisoned or put under house arrest”. They specifically referenced the case of Dritan Zagani, the former head of the border police in Vlore and investigator of the anti-drug squad.
“Zagani was held in solitary confinement for half a year, and then on house arrest, after telling his superiors about concrete evidence of drug trafficking linked to his then Minister of the Interior, Samir Tahiri. He was finally able to flee Albania with his family, thanks to Italian police.”
Reference is made to the fact that two of Rama’s former Ministers of the Interior- Tahiri and Fatmir Xhafaj- are either suspected, or under investigation for drug trafficking in the country.