As Albania waits to find out whether the European Union will agree to open accession talks in May 2020, media freedom continues to decline. Two controversial “anti-defamation” laws were passed by Parliament in December that could post a chilling threat to media freedom, freedom of speech, and freedom of expression in the Western Balkan country.
While they are on the backburner now, due in part to pressure from international press freedom organisations, the European Union, Council of Europe, OSCE and Members of European Parliament, the situation on the ground is still tough for Albanian journalists and media workers.
As highlighted in a number of reports, including one compiled after a delegation of international media freedom organisations visited in June 2019, one of the biggest issues facing Albanian media is attacks from politicians.
Prime Minister Edi Rama, in particular, has been repeatedly called out for his aggressive, threatening, and abusive language used against the media. Despite calls to change his rhetoric from local and international watchdogs, he continues unabated.
Here are some of the insults that Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama has used against the press since November 2017 [click on each insult for sources].
- Defenders of crime
- [He said they] spout accusations
- [Journalists are the] cause of the country’s problems
- [Journalists] ask meaningless questions
- [Journalists] should be ashamed
- They have a lack of English
- “I understand your poor work because you have a son”- Rama to female journalist Ilva Tare
- “I am here to satisfy all of your needs”- Rama to female journalist Eni Vasili
- “Sorry, I was looking at you but I was thinking of another person, a male colleague of yours […] I know that’s not a problem for you,” – Rama to female journalist Eni Vasili
- Prostitutes of information
- Writers of fake news and here
- Obscuring the truth
- Like a tumour
- Meeting journalists will upset your digestive system
- Human rights abusers
- Shut up
- What is this woman?
- Are you sober?
Albania currently ranks at number 82 in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, but it is expected to drop yet again due to a particularly bad year for journalists in the country.