Albanian journalists protested outside the Prime Minister’s office in Tirana on Monday night over comments from Prime Minister Edi Rama that one of them should be “reeducated” and a ban of three months from press conferences.
In an ever-declining media freedom climate, Rama, for the second time this year, told a journalist they should be reeducated and banned them from media events for asking questions he did not like.
A2 Media journalist Klevin Muka asked at a press conference, including Rama and Minister of Foreign Affairs Olta Xhacka, a question about the scandal involving the minister’s husband being granted strategic investor status and potentially benefitting from the public purse.
He asked, “Minister Xhacka, I have a question for you. On 29 April of this year, a new Ethics Code was implemented, which prohibits and foresees sanctions (including their removal) for all ministers that breach it. One of the provisions of this Ethics Code is that ministers cannot meet with business people alone and must do so only in the presence of at least two public administration employees. You, personally, have you followed this provision? Have you met with your husband – a businessman and strategic investor – in the presence of two public administration employees, or have you violated the Ethics Code?”
He essentially asked if the minister was always accompanied by state employees when meeting her own husband, a question that although does pose a challenge under the code of ethics, is not easily answerable.
While Muka’s question has been criticised by some, including journalist Fatjona Medini, for not being a real question and being formulated poorly, this is not the first time Rama has acted in this way.
In May 2022, Rama said Syri.net, owned by the son of his opponent Sali Berisha, journalist Ambrozia Meta should be sent for re-education and banned her from two months of press conferences.
Meta asked him if a parliamentary group was being made in prison cells due to the high number of MPs now behind bars, and he replied by saying she needed to be “reeducated”. This came after he put her under a two-month embargo, effectively banning her from interacting with him after she asked him about the arrest of two members of his Socialist Party.
Her question also received criticism for being necessarily provocative and not designed to elicit a proper answer.
However, the behaviour of Rama in banning journalists and saying they need to be reeducated follows an established pattern when interacting with the media. The environment for journalists in Albania continues to get more precarious, and Rama levies insults against media workers such as enemies, dogs, empty-headed parasites, and contented pigs.
The International Press Institute reacted to the news and spoke of their concern, issuing an alert for a violation of media freedom.
#Albania: IPI is concerned by the move by PM @ediramaal to unilaterally ban @a2_news journalist @Klevin_Muka from press conferences for three months over a question he asked about potential conflicts of interest & new ethics code. @MediaFreedomEU alert⬇️https://t.co/rRGGNptZ79 pic.twitter.com/xGmkREiSjc
— IPI – The Global Network for Independent Media (@globalfreemedia) July 4, 2022