Alice’s Guide to Albanian Politics: Six Things We Learned This Week

This is Alice’s tongue-in-cheek take on the main news in Albania over the last week.

North Macedonian Prime Minister Does the Decent Thing, Rama Fails to Do So

The Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev did what any decent PM would do on learning that his country failed to proceed to EU accession talks under his watch- he proposed snap elections. Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama and his minions blamed everything and everyone except themselves.

The fact of the matter is that under Rama’s governance the country has not moved forward enough in the eyes of several EU Member States and they are still massively failing to address issues such as crime, drugs, money laundering, and corruption. This coupled with the almost total extinction of the rule of law and the fact that media freedom in the country is decreasing on a daily basis means that understandably, many EU members have their concerns.

Instead of acknowledging the fact that acting like a tinpot dictator isn’t going to fly too well in Europe and that opening accession talks would give his single-party rule and authoritarian tendencies a vote of confidence, he carries on, dragging the country further and further into the abyss. The population get poorer whilst he and the Socialist Party get richer, institutions fail, and the economy suffers.

Zaev said he takes responsibility for his part in the decision and wants to give Macedonian citizens the chance to elect a new government. Unfortunately in Albania, the Socialist Party will do everything in their power to hang until every institution in the country is under their rule, at the expense of the electorate and their future. 

Turkish Ambassador to Albania Manages to Keep Straight Face Whilst Saying He Loves Kurds

The Turkish Ambassador to Albania, Murat Ahmet Yoruk, gave a press conference in Tirana this week where he managed to keep a completely straight face whilst presenting his country’s questionable version of event. 

The Turkish government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hates Kurds. Turkey continually attacks, harasses, imprisons, targets, and abuses Kurds. Almost two weeks ago, Turkish forces launched an offensive on Kurds in Rojava (Northeastern Syria), killing civilians, journalists, women, men, and children. Turkey was accused of war crimes and attempted genocide as the attack continued.

Mr Yoruk, however, had the audacity to tell the gathered media that “Kurdish civilians are not the enemy, they are our brothers”. 

I see. Is that why they allies executed nine civilians, two journalists, and a female politician before returning her body in pieces to her family is it?

The level of pro-Erdoğan propaganda we are being exposed to and the increase in relations with this increasingly authoritarian state with a rap sheet of human rights abuses longer than Edi Rama’s inseam should be a big cause of concern for us all.

Erion Veliaj Lied Again

In my weekly roundup of lies spouted by the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj, this week we have a right corker for you. 

Veliaj was nominated by his friends and sycophants at UNICEF Albania for recognition of the work he has done for children in the city. In particular, Veliaj believes that his work in terms of providing kindergartens, entertainment, green spaces, nurseries, and playgrounds is worthy of international recognition. 

He stated that “we focus a lot on kids. We started with playgrounds, kindergartens and nurseries. We are transforming Tirana into an exemplary city where children are first.”

Unless construction companies and developers are what Veliaj is referring to as “children” this is one hell of a lie. The Mayor could not care less about the children, youth, or adults for that matter. Instead he sells off chunks of the city to his friends, bulldozes historic playgrounds, evicts families from their homes with no compensation, allows child abusers to continue in their work, paints cycle lanes with poisonous paint, lies about planting trees, provides sub-par public transport, and hinders investigations into the death of a 17-year-old boy who died in a landfill, owned by Veliaj’s mate, where he was working illegally.

Whilst he may like hugging, touching, and using children for his propaganda because he thinks it makes him more likeable, this is as ‘child-friendly’ as Tirana gets. I love this city but as a mother of a baby and stepmother to a five-year-old, I can tell you that it is far from child-friendly.

Socialist Party Bend Rules to Get Ex-Communist Cushy Job

Skënder Gjinushi, who is well-known for being the Minister of Education during the last years of the communist regime, and for sexually harassing a female journalist, has been (possibly) illegally confirmed as the President of the Academy of Sciences- a job he is not qualified for.

Five months ago, he was elected in Edi Rama’s favourite kind of election (an uncontested one) but President Ilir Meta rejected it. One can assume that besides evidenced constitutional violations, Meta did this because of Gjinushi’s less than inspiring track record and the fact that it’s probably best to keep former ministers of the dictatorship out of positions of power. Anyway, the Socialist Party (a direct descendant of the Party of Labor of Albania, a.k.a the communists) decided to attack the President, reject his legally binding decision, and then rush through a law that would give them the right to do what they want.

The law was vetoed by the President as it is unconstitutional, but as that has never stopped a Rama Socialist, they passed it anyway and this fossil is likely to assume the position.

Rama’s Action against Bild Doesn’t Have a Leg to Stand On

After German newspaper Bild published wiretaps proving that Rama and his government were colluding with criminal gangs to intimidate voters and rig elections, instead of stepping down or submitting to an investigation, Rama said he would sue the newspaper that published them.

Exit consulted with a German lawyer to find out what basis Rama has for filing a lawsuit against the publication of wiretaps he admitted were genuine and said conversations he said he would have again. Once the lawyer stopped laughing, he confirmed what anyone with an ounce of intelligence knows which is there are no grounds criminal or civil for Rama to sue Bild or journalist Peter Tiede.

Hiring German lawyer Matthew Prinz whose hourly fee is half of Rama’s monthly salary, one can only assume Rama will be living on byrek and dhallë for the next year due to legal bills whilst he attempts to pursue this ridiculous notion of a lawsuit.

EU Failure Results In Rama Blaming Everyone Else

Leader of the Opposition Lulzim Basha pointed his finger at Edi Rama on Saturday following the news that Albania will not open EU accession talks at the moment. 

With a really angry look on his face, he told the Prime Minister “this is all your fault, you had one job, and you screwed it,” he said before going on to accuse Rama of money laundering, criminality, ruling with oligarchs, ruining the economy, and pretty much anything else he could think of.

Rama, quaking in his trainers, responded by shrugging his shoulders like a petulant seven-year-old and saying “it wasn’t me”. 

In defence of his catastrophic failure, Rana said “umm well we did everything, but the process changed so umm yeah…” before looking down at his feet and mumbling incoherently. He then tried to say that the decision was absolutely nothing to do with Albania per se, but rather “internal EU policies”. 

Bizarrely, he then went on to call the collapse of the Constitutional Court a “success” and claimed for the nth time that this and the special prosecution will be completed soon – this time by the new year. When asked about the fact that up to 83% of the population want to leave the country he put it down to “a changing world” and added it was absolutely nothing to do with the fact that people don’t like living under an increasingly authoritarian leader whose sole aim is to get rich whilst the country suffers.