The Albanian government has nominated Ditmir Bushati to fill the role of the OSC Representative on Freedom of the Media (RFoM), the role previously held by Harlem Desir.
Bushati served as the Socialist Party Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2013 to 2019 and has served as a diplomat as well as chairing the Parliamentary Committee to European Integration. He is a law graduate and has lectured at various local and international universities. Career-wise, he has served as an Analyst for Freedom House and National Coordinator of the Open Society Foundation’s project to monitor Albania’s EU integration process.
He is currently the special envoy of the Albanian OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Prime Minister Edi Rama.
The letter sent to international embassies in Tirana said Bushati is “one of the most prominent Albania politicians” with a long career in diplomacy. It calls him “the top candidate for the position, an eminent personality” and someone with longstanding experience, work ethic, and managerial skills.
He doesn’t have any experience with journalism or the media.
Other candidates from other OSCE countries include Maja Cappello, former official at the Italian Ministry of Culture who held various media-related positions, Patrick Pennickx the Belgian Head of Information Society Department at the Council of Europe, Maria Teresa Ribiera the Portuguese former President of the Institute for media and secretary of state for foreign affairs.
The OSCE RFoM has been instrumental in the battle over the controversial “anti-defamation” law in Albania. Rama previously claimed that Desir supported the law while Desir clarified in an interview with Exit that he did not in its current state.
The media law will bring all online media under the direct control of the government and can impose fines and closure on sites without a court order. Furthermore, Albania is on a downward trajectory in terms of its media climate, noting a considerable drop in its Reporters Without Borders country report, each year.
Rama frequently and publicly attacks the media and has made no secret of his dislike of critical portals and journalists.