Prime Minister Edi Rama is well known for his dislike of Albanian media and journalists, calling them “dogs”, “disgusting”, “idiotic”, and “parasites” (you can see a list of 42 of his most recent insults here). Not content with just targeting domestic media, he has extended his attacks to media in Kosovo as well.
Earlier this week, Rama said that Kosovo media platforms T7 and Gazeta Express were spreading “chauvinist hatred against Albania”. He also accused the media of waging a “ferocious invasion of the public communications space that, with its vulgarity, defamation and shortsightedness, has begun to damage Kosovo itself.”
The Association of Journalists of Kosovo (AJK) responded in a press release, stating that they consider Rama’s words as a violation of press freedom. They also noted his “poor rapport with the media in Albania”.
Media lawyer and legal advisor with the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom Flutura Kusari told BIRN that Rama was already “famous for all the wrong reasons internationally” because of his continuous stream of attacks on journalists, in particular female journalists. She said that Rama cannot tolerate different opinions and as a result, he is “trying to contaminate the public space in Kosovo as well.”
On 13 February, Rama appeared on the Opinion TV show and fielded questions from a panel of journalists. When facing questioning from well-respected investigative journalist Klodiana Lala over a photo showing him posing with criminal Ardian Capja, he called her ignorant and asked the host “what is this woman”. When she persisted in her line of questioning, he told her to shut up.
During the same broadcast, he asked journalist Artan Hoxha if he had been taking drugs, told him to shut up, and said he was speaking stupid nonsense. He then proceeded to say he had no clue who journalist Ervis Iliazaj was, told him to improve his level of intelligence and asked the host “where do you find these people.
Press freedom in Albania has decreased drastically under Rama’s administration and it is expected to take a nosedive in the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index 2020 after a particularly troubling year for the media. Asides from personal attacks from Rama and the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj, journalists have been assaulted, gassed, been victims of vandalism, had threats, lost their jobs, and had their residence permits illegally refused.