From: Exit News
None of the Candidates for Head of Media Authority Meet Legally Mandated Criteria

None of the four candidates for head of the Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) meet the legally mandated requirement of having a minimum of 10 years experience in media.

The law for the Audiovisual Media Authority, article 8, point 2, requires AMA members to have at least 10 years of experience working in media-related, media technology, art and culture, law and public administration fields.

The law also prohibits the candidacy of political party members, but not explicitly that of high government functionaries. 

In a memo from Parliament General Secretary Genc Gjonçaj to the Education Committee describing all the candidates for this position, it is clear that none of them have the required years of experience. Additionally, as Exit has explained before, they have been involved in politics. Consequently, the lawful way to proceed would be for the parliament to call off the race and open the application process once more.

The candidates for head of the AMA

Maklen Misha has been a Ministry of Defense counselor since 2019, and has served as public relations counselor for Tirana mayor Erion Veliaj from 2015 to 2018.

From 2011 to 2013, Misha was in the work group working group that drafted the Socialist Party employment program, in addition to serving as a counselor for Edi Rama, who was Tirana mayor at the time. He is also a co-founder of the G99 party, created in 2008.

According to the memo, Misha has been involved in politics for upwards of 10 years, more than 6 of which he spent working as a counselor for Edi Rama, Tirana mayor Erion Veliaj, and Minister of Defense Olta Xhaçka.

The position of counselor is a political one and cannot be counted towards work experience in one of the fields required by the law. As a result, Misha only has 4 years and 6 months of valid experience as a candidate for AMA membership.

Edvin Kukunja, former legal counsel in the Ministry of Education, and legal counsel in the Ministry of Justice since 2018.

According to the memo, Kukunja only has 4 years and 7 months of working experience and it consists entirely of his work as counsel for the ministries mentioned above.

Thus, Kukunja does not meet the legal requirements for work experience either.

According to the memo, Fatjon Haxholli, has 6 years of official work experience, for more than 4 years of which he serves as outside collaborator in the Agenda Center. He served as counsel for Prime Minister Rama, the Minister of Agriculture, and the Minister of Education.

Similarly to Maklen Misha, political positions do not count as valid work experience for the AMA membership, thus Hoxhalli only has 3 years and two months of valid work experience. Even if his experience as outside collaborator will be deemed valid by the committee, his total work experience would only come to 7 years and 5 months.

Denis Dedej has a total of 7 years of work experience, during 4 of which he served as Tirana municipality Director of Information. He worked as external counsel for the “Koha Jonë” newspaper for 3 years, from 2007 to 2010, a time during which he had not yet completed his Bachelor’s degree. The above reasoning applies here, as well.

Nowhere does the memo note whether these candidates meet the requirements to become head of AMA. On the other hand, the list of candidates for simple AMA membership notes whether each of them meets the work experience requirements.

Besides failing to meet the work experience criteria, all four candidates are deeply involved in politics, as outlined above.

Appointing one of these candidates as head of AMA would constitute a significant blow to the trustworthiness of the institution that, by law, must be an independent one.

The procedure for appointing the head of AMA

According to the law, the Parliament should send the candidate shortlist to the Education Committee. The latter must verify that every candidate meets the legally mandated criteria.

Following this, the committee identifies the four candidates who received the most votes from its members. Representatives of the opposition serving as members of the Education Committee must then dismiss two of the four candidates.

Afterwards, the two remaining candidates are voted on by the parliament. The head of the AMA is elected by a simple majority.