Editorial: Quo vadis Albania? A darkening storm with no end in sight

Editorial: Quo vadis Albania? A darkening storm with no end in sight

TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL The German tabloid Bild published an article about the situation in Albania focusing on the opposition protests and on the political crisis and featuring a photo where the Molotov bottles of the protesters erupt in flames. More

Read Full Article
The race for the Himara Municipality

The race for the Himara Municipality

Op-Ed  By Nikollaq Neranxi Two candidates have enrolled in the Central Election Committee to compete as mayor of Himara: Jorgo Goro, who seeks a third term and Fredi Beleri who seeks a second loss. In fact, everything went as expected:

Read Full Article

Coalition for Reforms criticizes CEC for flagrantly violating electoral law

NEWS ANALYSIS  Albania’s Coalition for Reforms, Integration and Consolidated Institutions issued a statement on Tuesday  urging the Central Election Committee to “act in respect of the spirit and letter of the law” regarding the registration of the newest opposition Democratic

Read Full Article

The rigged game: CEC shoots itself on the foot

TIRANA TIMES OP-ED Democracy is a system that needs rules. It is fragile and even the smallest deviation from the rules can have cascading effects. Albania as a country that has not succeeded to complete its democratic transition knows this

Read Full Article
Editorial: Foreign policy and bilateral relations: where’s the focus at?

Editorial: Foreign policy and bilateral relations: where’s the focus at?

TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL The Brdo-Brijuni Process Leaders’ Meeting is under way in Tirana and heads of states of the region have gathered under conditions which cannot to be described as favorable. The visit of Serbian president Vucic and the President

Read Full Article
Editorial: The fallout from the Berlin Summit: realism must prevail on all sides

Editorial: The fallout from the Berlin Summit: realism must prevail on all sides

TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL The much anticipated Summit in Berlin where German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron gathered all Balkan leaders had a fallout that resembled a cold sobering shower for many of the region’s politicians but also for the

Read Full Article
Iran as a Litmus Test

Iran as a Litmus Test

By Akri Çipa  As we approach the one-year anniversary of the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, the debate about that decision is still ongoing. This

Read Full Article
New political party, same old obsolete story

New political party, same old obsolete story

TIRANA TIMES OP-ED In principle the establishment of a new political party in any pluralistic system should be good news. The creation of a platform where citizens can advocate for common interest is the key way to play the democratic

Read Full Article
Editorial: The lessons of the painful past beg to be remembered

Editorial: The lessons of the painful past beg to be remembered

TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL One of the key abilities for both individuals and countries to be mature and prosperous is to be able to learn from their past mistakes. Experience, no matter how painful or absurd, holds valuable lessons for the

Read Full Article
“Albania’s NATO commitment is a commitment to the region”

“Albania’s NATO commitment is a commitment to the region”

By Ilir Meta  In the capacities of the President of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Albania, but especially as a witness and protagonist of my country’s nearly 30-year-old Euro-Atlantic journey, I would like to share with

Read Full Article
WP_Query Object
(
    [query_vars] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 30
            [error] => 
            [m] => 
            [p] => 0
            [post_parent] => 
            [subpost] => 
            [subpost_id] => 
            [attachment] => 
            [attachment_id] => 0
            [name] => 
            [static] => 
            [pagename] => 
            [page_id] => 0
            [second] => 
            [minute] => 
            [hour] => 
            [day] => 0
            [monthnum] => 0
            [year] => 0
            [w] => 0
            [category_name] => op-ed
            [tag] => 
            [tag_id] => 
            [author] => 
            [author_name] => 
            [feed] => 
            [tb] => 
            [paged] => 0
            [comments_popup] => 
            [meta_key] => 
            [meta_value] => 
            [preview] => 
            [s] => 
            [sentence] => 
            [fields] => 
            [menu_order] => 
            [category__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [category__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [tag_slug__and] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [post_parent__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__in] => Array
                (
                )

            [author__not_in] => Array
                (
                )

            [ignore_sticky_posts] => 
            [suppress_filters] => 
            [cache_results] => 1
            [update_post_term_cache] => 1
            [update_post_meta_cache] => 1
            [post_type] => 
            [posts_per_page] => 10
            [nopaging] => 
            [comments_per_page] => 50
            [no_found_rows] => 
            [order] => DESC
        )

    [tax_query] => WP_Tax_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                    [0] => Array
                        (
                            [taxonomy] => category
                            [terms] => Array
                                (
                                    [0] => 30
                                )

                            [include_children] => 1
                            [field] => term_id
                            [operator] => IN
                        )

                )

            [relation] => AND
        )

    [meta_query] => WP_Meta_Query Object
        (
            [queries] => Array
                (
                )

            [relation] => 
        )

    [date_query] => 
    [post_count] => 10
    [current_post] => -1
    [in_the_loop] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [current_comment] => -1
    [found_posts] => 846
    [max_num_pages] => 85
    [max_num_comment_pages] => 0
    [is_single] => 
    [is_preview] => 
    [is_page] => 
    [is_archive] => 1
    [is_date] => 
    [is_year] => 
    [is_month] => 
    [is_day] => 
    [is_time] => 
    [is_author] => 
    [is_category] => 1
    [is_tag] => 
    [is_tax] => 
    [is_search] => 
    [is_feed] => 
    [is_comment_feed] => 
    [is_trackback] => 
    [is_home] => 
    [is_404] => 
    [is_comments_popup] => 
    [is_paged] => 
    [is_admin] => 
    [is_attachment] => 
    [is_singular] => 
    [is_robots] => 
    [is_posts_page] => 
    [is_post_type_archive] => 
    [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => 3a34538d78988538a9d85ecb4b237c35
    [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 
    [thumbnails_cached] => 1
    [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => 
    [query] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 30
        )

    [request] => SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS  wp_posts.ID FROM wp_posts  INNER JOIN wp_term_relationships ON (wp_posts.ID = wp_term_relationships.object_id) WHERE 1=1  AND ( wp_term_relationships.term_taxonomy_id IN (30) ) AND wp_posts.post_type = 'post' AND (wp_posts.post_status = 'publish') GROUP BY wp_posts.ID ORDER BY wp_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 10
    [posts] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141764
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-05-17 10:34:14
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-17 08:34:14
                    [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL 

The German tabloid Bild published an article about the situation in Albania focusing on the opposition protests and on the political crisis and featuring a photo where the Molotov bottles of the protesters erupt in flames. More telling than the article though, were the multiple comments of readers underneath its posting in social media. Likely travelers were telling each other that it was best they cancelled plans to visit Albania in the summer. One particular bitter posting read: I can’t believe we were thinking to go here this year!

There is an acrimonious unfairness that is hitting tourism operators quite hard as they are seeing cancelations or pending reservations add up on their screens. They depend largely on the few months of summer to generate incomes that will keep their business floating for the entire year. If individual potential tourists think like this, then one could only imagine the complex calculations that will keep investors and likely businesses off for a much longer time than just a summer season.

Whereas the political and European integration costs of the current crisis in Albania have been discussed at length, not much has been said about the definite negative impact on economy. This bearing is becoming more visible and more vocal by the day. Business operators, economy journalists and even the President of the Republic called this week for more attention to the fallout on economy. The toll that the current and the expected instability of the country is taking on sectors such as tourism, trade and investment in fact merits much more coverage and analysis.

Indeed economy is an additional important concern to a problematic situation. The very system of checks and balances has been upset in Albania. The parliament, the highest and most prestigious platform of popular legitimacy has been sadly transformed into a freak show. The violence is growing. The police demonstrated very unprofessional conduct last time when it hit a protesting leadership member of the DP while he was running away and caused him severe injuries.  Another protest has been announced for May 25.

The political crisis has reached the point in which it resembles the darkest tunnel with no end in sight.

In the middle of this darkness, the behavior of the majority is bordering on cruel blind cynicism. After registering its candidates for local elections, a move that defies any logic of compromise, it extended a hypercritical offer of dialogue to the protesting opposition. The offer which is vested in ridicule and arrogance is in fact an alibi and an attempt to present the opposition as the aggressive side that refuses negotiations to both the domestic public and more importantly to the international community. Therefore “dialogue” is being used once again as a de facto ‘weapon’ in the arsenal of political infighting.  

As the set date for local elections approaches the perfect storm of instability, discontent and destructiveness is being assembled with the special care of irresponsible politicians on both sides. All the indicators are clear and point to the fact that the costs of the storm explosion can be detrimental to Albania, both in terms of stability and economy. This can and will set Albania back at least a decade, signaling the most remarkable regress and closing off for a long time any feasible perspective of EU integration, which, considering the EU’s internal dynamic, was difficult to attain in the first place.

The solution can and should be found as soon as possible. It is already becoming too late.

 
                    [post_title] => Editorial: Quo vadis Albania? A darkening storm with no end in sight
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => editorial-quo-vadis-albania-a-darkening-storm-with-no-end-in-sight
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-05-17 10:34:14
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-17 08:34:14
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141764
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [1] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141751
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2019-05-15 21:43:12
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-15 19:43:12
                    [post_content] => Op-Ed 

By Nikollaq Neranxi

Two candidates have enrolled in the Central Election Committee to compete as mayor of Himara: Jorgo Goro, who seeks a third term and Fredi Beleri who seeks a second loss. In fact, everything went as expected: Jorgo Goro was reelected by Rama as the man who serviced all his projects involving the seizure of the lands on the coast, where every centimeter is owned by indigenous residents. So there was no reason to move such a diligent servant. On the other hand, he faces a candidate who has been both a hidden servant of this government and an open servant of Greek politics at the same time.

Greeks placed their own person as guarantee that he would best represent their own interests, which is the separation of Himara between politicians, oligarchs and beyond. Beleri will work for Goro to win and, in return, he and his bosses will be rewarded with plots of land on the Southern seashore. So do not expect Beleri to campaign for Vorio Epirus, they have now found easier and more sophisticated ways to take over that area; it is enough to rob the land, build hotels and resorts and it’s theirs!

This is the fate of Himara, for which two individuals are racing, one more of a thief than the other, with backs bent from all the services they make for their bosses, the great mission to rob Himara, to expel her native residents, and to eradicate her glorious history. Beleri has began that service several months ago, signing on behalf of residents, to rob properties, in cooperation with Goro, and both have more to contribute in this regard, as no one takes the trouble to stop them. 

P.S. Himarots who begin their day gossiping and drinking rakia by the seaside, too unconcerned to care about the “war” to save their ancestors’ lands, are not advised to read this piece.

 
                    [post_title] => The race for the Himara Municipality 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => the-race-for-the-himara-municipality
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-05-15 21:43:12
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-15 19:43:12
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141751
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [2] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141702
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2019-05-10 12:06:00
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-10 10:06:00
                    [post_content] => NEWS ANALYSIS 

Albania’s Coalition for Reforms, Integration and Consolidated Institutions issued a statement on Tuesday  urging the Central Election Committee to “act in respect of the spirit and letter of the law” regarding the registration of the newest opposition Democratic Conviction Party.

In the statement, KRIIK expressed concerned about the law violation regarding the decision taken by the CEC on April 27 to register the newly founded electoral subject DCP (Partia Bindja Demokratike). 

“This decision not only is in violation of the deadline set by the Electoral Code, but while

adopting it, the CEC body did not even take into account the legal practice followed by

itself in the 2013 Parliamentary Elections and in the 2015 Local Elections, as well as the decision of the Electoral College of 2013, on the non-registration of electoral subjects which, within the deadline set by the Electoral Code, were electoral subjects for which a decision was taken by the Court, but this decision was not yet final,” the statement read. 

Further on, the statement highlighted that the subject’s registration was made by the court two days after the electoral subjects’ registration date had expired. 

According to the statement, although “the CEC Chairperson, Mr. Zguri brought to the attention of the members this concern, the other four members of the CEC not only did not consider the established practice, but, in an unprecedented manner, did not hold any discussion or provided

arguments for their stance, voting en bloc for the registration of the subject, versus

the vote against of CEC Chairman.”

The DC was registered at the Central Election Commission to participate in the June 30th race on the last day of the legal deadline.

Meanwhile, several local media pointed out how the Tirana Court took only five hours to register and legalize the freshly-founded party, although the legal procedure takes considerably longer.

The creation and operation of political parties are regulated by the Law on Political Parties, which sets out some conditions to be met and verified by the court before registering a party.

A request must be submitted to the Tirana Court for registration, which must be signed by at least three thousand individuals, founding members of the party; the adopted party statute; and the chairman of the party, who is its legal representative.

The documentation must be subject to judicial review, which, besides verifying the fulfillment of the above conditions, must also verify whether the statute and other party documents are in accordance with the Constitution and the Laws, within 30 days after the request is submitted.

Part of the examination should also be the verification of the existence and the signature of the 3,000 founding members. The law stipulates that for each founding member there should be shown name, surname, personal identification number and place of residence, for which it offers the court a month’s time.

Now, also according to the statement prepared by experts it is further proven that the CEC registered a new political subject to participate in the elections in complete violation to the law. Also based on this statement it can be concluded the CEC is under political pressure to act illegitimately - this particular pressure coming from the government, which is lacking a legitimate opposition to participate in the elections, as the united opposition has resigned its mandates, seeking Prime Minister Edi Rama’s removal. 

It is also to be noted that the CEC’s decision cannot be changed, as the Constitutional Court is currently non functioning due to the judicial reform, which has disqualified most judges and prosecutors. 

The CEC’s stand is even more questionable taking into consideration the current polarized climate in the country and the strong debates taking place between the government and the resigned opposition regarding ballot buying and the development of free and fair elections. 

Political experts in Albania have independently criticized what is happening, calling the creation of the Democratic Conviction Party “an attempt to create a fake opposition” which doesn’t help 

the government, mor the bring a solution to the country’s deadlock.

They have additionally criticized the government’s creation of ghost opposition parties that do not fulfill the legal criteria, just to give off the impression pluralistic elections are taking place.

“In these circumstances and in the conditions when the opposition out of the 2017 elections has resigned parliamentary mandates and protests in the street accusing the majority of having occupied all powers, the CEC conduct and well-functioning is of vital importance. It is important not only to administer an election process, but to preserve public confidence in the role of the CEC institution in overseeing, organizing and administering the election process, as well as in its readiness to consider and review objectively, truthfully and impartially all allegations or legal violations that may be denounced or can be observed directly by the CEC itself,” the KRIIK statement concludes.
                    [post_title] => Coalition for Reforms criticizes CEC for flagrantly violating electoral law
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => coalition-for-reforms-criticizes-cec-for-flagrantly-violating-electoral-law
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-05-10 12:06:00
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-10 10:06:00
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141702
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [3] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141697
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2019-05-10 11:54:53
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-10 09:54:53
                    [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES OP-ED

Democracy is a system that needs rules. It is fragile and even the smallest deviation from the rules can have cascading effects. Albania as a country that has not succeeded to complete its democratic transition knows this too well. The political crisis that the country finds itself in is first and foremost about the rules of the democratic process, about a regular electoral process and legitimate outcomes that come out of free and fair elections. The key institution in charge to safeguard those rules and ensure their implementation is the Central Election Commission (CEC).

Whereas political pressure has always been a negative factor in the performance of the CEC, there have been many cases when the Commission has shown serious responsibility and taken decisions that have paved the way to protecting the rules of the game.

Therefore it is particularly concerning and disheartening to see the behavior of the CEC members this week, when in full contradiction to the law, to their previous track record and in utter defiance of the sensitive situation of the crisis they went ahead with allowing a new political party to enter the yet uncertain to happen local elections next month.

There were multiple grave irregularities with this act. The law has been broken by those in charge to safeguard it. The final date set to submit relevant registration documents was April 21. The CEC itself has had similar cases in 2015 and has voted unanimously to refute them. Most importantly in the moment when the new party, ironically dubbed Democratic Conviction, submitted the application to the CEC, it had not yet been formalized by the Court of Tirana. It was not a full juridical entity and therefore impossible to be registered as a competitor. However sadly the sky is the limit when it comes to the absurdity of the current state of affairs.

The decision of the CEC members that are nominated by the majority, was contested by the CEC head, the last remaining member representing the opposition in this institution, citing all the aforementioned arguments. It is clear that these move, alongside the disappointing persistence to treat the rather ridiculous group of substitute MPs as ‘real’ or ‘new’ opposition by the majority, are in line with an ill- advised strategy to go ahead in the elections with an alibi of partaking opposition.

This paper has discussed and forewarned in previous editorials the immense risk of executing such a plan and how the past holds bitter lessons for those who try this adventure.

However the most serious responsibility in this case is about the Central Elections Commission which has demonstrated a spectacular failure, an obvious and disgraceful bow to political pressure and a deep incapability of exerting its basic functions. This is the CEC in charge on June 30.

A last word is warranted about the role of the OSCE in Albania which has been very vocal about the need to have a regular electoral process and which remained inexplicably silent about this recent serious digression. This silence does not fare well and is even more worrisome on the context of the legitimacy of the international mission which is under a lot of criticism already.

Once again all sides, national and international, must come to terms that as long as the game is perpetually rigged and meddled with, the transition will never end and the vicious cycle of crisis will keep this country and its future forever hostage.
                    [post_title] => The rigged game: CEC shoots itself on the foot 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => the-rigged-game-cec-shoots-itself-on-the-foot
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-05-10 11:54:53
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-10 09:54:53
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141697
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [4] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141694
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2019-05-10 11:47:20
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-10 09:47:20
                    [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL

The Brdo-Brijuni Process Leaders’ Meeting is under way in Tirana and heads of states of the region have gathered under conditions which cannot to be described as favorable.

The visit of Serbian president Vucic and the President of the Republika Srpska Dodik was awaited with protests called by Vetvendosje. The latter being a political party in Kosovo has registered a branch in the form of a NGO in Albania. They are carrying a discourse which does not resonate with the mainstream political parties in Albania who have always favored ongoing dialogue and deepening relations with Serbia as a strategic way to preserve stability in the region. This ‘imported protests’ though being a bit of a novelty do not carry any real weight since they don’t have legitimacy stemming from the home public.

However relations with Serbia have been stagnant after the enthusiasm of the high level meetings a few years ago. The inspiring ideas which resulted in few concrete achievements such as the Joint Chamber of Commerce have abated and the shadow of the situation with Kosovo has again taken prominence in the dialogue between Tirana and Belgrade

The region is still reeling from the most recent yet not unique cold shower that the enlargement perspective got at the Berlin Summit hosted by Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron. The message seems to be lost on the outgoing leadership of the External Action Service who curiously insists on not delaying what has already been delayed.

Perhaps the most disappointed one is the Republic of North Macedonia whose leaders, after going to quite some lengths to reach the agreement with Greece, are openly asking what more does it take for the opening of negotiations.  It is only a matter of time before the negative impact that the case of Albania, still in the throes of a full blown political crisis, exerts on the whole issue becomes an issue as well.

The Summit also did into succeed to bring anything new for the Kosovo-Serbia relations which are at a new low which is not that surprising. What is disappointing is the role that the Albanian leadership has played with its interference. In addition to being unhelpful, the meddling of Albanian PM Rama and the following conflict between him and PM Haradinaj has also soured the relations between Kosovo and Albania. Trading rhetorical jabs over the last few days about ‘treason’, ‘patriotism’ and half a dozen other words that are reminiscent of the 19th century discourse is not making things any better.

Hence paradoxically Albanian bilateral relations with both Serbia and Kosovo are at the same time faltering. The Albanian foreign policy seems to have lost focus of the need to strengthen bilateral relations and keep them in focus. The first step to project any kind of influence is to fix the things at home, a message bluntly delivered in Berlin as well. Albania can neither help Kosovo in any way nor improve relations with Serbia in the current state that finds itself today, engulfed by a crisis with no horizon at sight. The wobbly behavior of the Albanian majority leaders in the international field is a perfect illustration of that.
                    [post_title] => Editorial: Foreign policy and bilateral relations: where’s the focus at?
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => editorial-foreign-policy-and-bilateral-relations-wheres-the-focus-at
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-05-10 11:47:20
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-10 09:47:20
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141694
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [5] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141584
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2019-05-03 08:09:22
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-03 06:09:22
                    [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL

The much anticipated Summit in Berlin where German Chancellor Merkel and French President Macron gathered all Balkan leaders had a fallout that resembled a cold sobering shower for many of the region’s politicians but also for the public opinion. The latter has been fooled more than once by conflicting messages. It is enough to recall grotesque festivities of the early celebration of the negotiations opening last year, and even decorating the ambassadors in some of the EU member states with this motivation!

 “Get your houses in order before we can talk about any enlargement step!” was the prevailing message on the secondary topic of the Summit, given that the event’s main pillar was reigniting the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo. This simple yet powerful message should serve as a hard wake up call for several actors to adopt a realistic approach to evaluating the progress made by aspiring countries in key areas relevant not only to their integration perspective but most importantly to their consolidation as democratic functional states.

Notwithstanding the pressure from their internal dynamics (in the case of France) and from the very close European parliament elections (in the case of both), the message of the European powerhouses Germany and France has strong doses of realism in it. These should serve as bitter but necessary pills to be ingested first and foremost by Albanian leaders in order to refocus their attention at home rather than serving ill-fitted solutions to the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue, in which by the way they seem to be neither invited nor welcomed. The Albanian majority in power should redirect all their attention at home, at the internal political crisis that is putting whatever little progress that might have been achieved with the reforms in serious jeopardy.

Albania as it stand today, in the midst of a serious political and social crisis, should better not invent justifications for its internal failures.  Even more so it should steer clear of bilateral disputes between independent states, especially now that the negotiation and mediation power is at all-time low for both internal and regional reasons.

The realistic message should also ring true in the ears of European diplomats serving in the region, but particularly in Tirana. There seems to be a curios yet unhelpful switch of the attention of the diplomatic corps in Tirana towards the modus operandi of “travelogy”- experiencing, describing and promoting the panoramic, cultural, culinary and associated delights of place, focusing on the exotic. These messages come at the cost of ignoring or downplaying the real structural problems and most poignantly the acute crisis that is unfolding every day in Albania. To borrow a metaphor from Ivan Krastev, “a weak state in crisis is as big as an elephant”, but once you decide to shut your eyes you cannot see it, despite its size.

One more actor needs to be seriously engaged in this analytical reconsideration infused with realism. The previous experience of the report issued by the European Commission which recommended the unconditional opening of the accession negotiations and yet was not enough for the Council to give the green light, did enough damage to the legitimacy, authority and reputation of the Commission both in Brussels and in the region. Repeating this mistake again this year would definitely be a destructive second blow. The report must strike the correct balance between acknowledging tangible progress and highlighting deep systematic road blocks, if it is to be taken seriously this time.

The Albanian society is pro-European and pro-western. The Albanian foreign policy has been mostly consistent with that of the western alliances. There is no political party or force in the country that roots for any other plan B. The key frame conditions are set. The desire to start the serious path of negotiations is real and should be respected by all sides by fulfilling the rest with responsibility: by getting the house in order.
                    [post_title] => Editorial: The fallout from the Berlin Summit: realism must prevail on all sides
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => the-fallout-from-the-berlin-summit-realism-must-prevail-on-all-sides
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-05-03 08:11:04
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-03 06:11:04
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141584
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [6] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141581
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2019-05-02 21:09:02
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-02 19:09:02
                    [post_content] => By Akri Çipa

 As we approach the one-year anniversary of the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, the debate about that decision is still ongoing. This debate has been fueled by the U.S. Administration that has continued its confrontational approach towards Iran, but without offering, so far, a real alternative to the previously stipulated deal. At the same time the debate has been regenerated also by the chorus of Democratic presidential hopefuls that have started to agree on the idea that the U.S. could and should rejoin the agreement. Although it is not being acknowledged though, this debate goes beyond the mere nuclear agreement with Iran. As it stands, U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran is greatly indicative about the envisioned future role of the United States in the world and in the evolving international system. It is thus worth analyzing the two visions that are being juxtaposed in this debate and that have the potential to be quite consequential.

The first one is the one fueling the actions of the current U.S. Administration and its “maximum pressure” strategy towards Iran. The U.S. Administration declared the past week that it would cancel the sanction waivers granted to a select group of countries to continue importing Iranian oil when the sanctions on Iran’s banking, energy, and shipping industries were reimposed. The waivers were per se issued to permit eight countries - that include China, India, Egypt, and Turkey - the possibility to curtail Iranian oil imports gradually.

The so-called “maximum pressure” strategy started in itself with the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, on the premises that it was a bad agreement – with sunset provisions that gave expiration dates for the restrictions on Iran’s enrichment program and that did not address at all Iran’s destabilizing activities in the wider Middle East region. Part of this strategy was also Trump’s designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization – the first time that a foreign government’s military is designated as such in the international stage.

The problem with the current strategy is that it does not offer a cohesive roadmap to a desired outcome – it is a strategy, but not a policy. Sometimes it has been suggested that a new deal, revised and perfected, from the U.S. perspective, with Iran would be welcome, while other times it is has been implied that the ultimate solution and end goal is regime change. Nevertheless, it is important to see that this is fundamentally an assertive positioning of the United States. Though not quite enriched in details and elevated with a roadmap to a well-designed policy, the “maximum pressure” strategy can be translated into a still dominant role in world affairs for the United States. On this premise, though it challenges and moves away from the norms of the international liberal system of post-1990s, with its unilateral decisions and freeriding, the United States is still able to influence developments all over the globe.

The other vision very much considers this ability already lost. A competing vision has started to be floated around, especially by some of the presidential hopefuls that are running to challenge President Trump in the 2020 presidential election. Almost all of them criticized the decision to abandon the Iran deal and now many of them have expressed readiness to reenter the deal if they win the presidency and if Iran continues abiding by the agreement. The premise behind this idea underlines a fundamentally different future role for the United States in the international system. Those that support reentering the JCPOA under the current circumstances, seem to believe that U.S. role in the world needs and will be recalibrated and its ability to influence world affairs and control adversaries scaled down in the near future.

If a Democrat wins the presidential election in 2020, he or she would face the inevitable reality of being only a few years away from the sunset provisions. And they would have to think about what happens after that. Secondly, but equally important, the rationale behind Obama’s administration for the Iran deal will not be applicable any more. The rationale was that by prohibiting Iran to continue its nuclear program and reintegrating it in the international system, one of two possible outcomes would occur. Either Iran’s regime would be lured to a cooperative stance due to not being considered an outcast and not being threatened anymore with regime change. Or regime change would happen organically when the highly educated Iranians, seeing the economic benefits and innumerable possibilities for prosperity and freedom, would consider the current regime outdated and inhibitory to realizing their potential. Through this scenario planning, the Obama administration played a bet based on what they considered to be a system ripe for intervention.

The situation that a U.S. President would face in 2021 is totally different and there is no indicator that those assumptions still hold. The current regime in Iran proved to be resilient. Despite the early 2018 protests in Iran, the government showed no cracks or signs of weakness. Despite the difficult economic conditions from the current sanctions, and the resulting high inflation and unemployment, and, of course, the decrease in oil exports, the regime has shown it still has its hold on power and internal regime change, despite all expectations, seems more like wishful thinking than a concrete possibility. Reentering the Iran deal now would mean accepting the realities in the ground as given, and not believing in the ability of the U.S. to reshape the playing field. This is the second vision that seems to be getting quite traction and that it outlines a pessimistic view of the limited capabilities and role of the U.S. in the international system.

The Democratic primary is still in its early stages and many of the candidates, including the presumed front-runner, former Vice-President Joe Biden, have yet to offer their policies and perspectives as concern Iran and other international challenges. There is still possibility for other visions and foreign policy doctrines to be elevated. But, as it stands, currently there are these two fundamentally different visions that have hijacked the discourse and that will potentially define not only the strategic stance towards Iran’s nuclear ambitions and activities in the Middle East, but, most importantly, the fundamental conceptualization of America’s future in world affairs.  
                    [post_title] => Iran as a Litmus Test
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => iran-as-a-litmus-test
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-05-02 21:09:02
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-02 19:09:02
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141581
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [7] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141533
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-04-26 09:48:06
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-26 07:48:06
                    [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES OP-ED

In principle the establishment of a new political party in any pluralistic system should be good news. The creation of a platform where citizens can advocate for common interest is the key way to play the democratic game by the rules. However the political development story of Albania has seen the same old story repeat itself again and again in times prior to elections. Disgruntled individuals out of anger, spite and opportunism establish new parties after leaving old ones. They claim they stand for the principles the party has left aside.

Instead of providing real alternatives, they provide only a chance to vent off some discontent. The same logic applies to the establishment of the newest party on the right of the political spectrum by individuals who have long ago parted ways with the leadership of the Democratic Party. Despite having had plenty of time to establish this political force before, they chose to appear in this specific moment when the DP is out of the system and already has decided to forgo the local elections.

One needs not necessarily believe the conspiracy stories that the majority stands behind this new party to judge its obsoleteness. No matter how this force is promoted, it still serves nothing but the ill termed attempt to replace the real opposition who has taken to the streets with a fake one.

The democratic pluralistic system in Albania at the moment is in dire need of consolidating the rules of the game by making a firm, clear and final departure from using crime and money to influence and manipulate elections. The establishment of a new party that stems from an old one, real or fake, is a step in the void.
                    [post_title] => New political party, same old obsolete story 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => new-political-party-same-old-obsolete-story
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-04-26 09:48:06
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-26 07:48:06
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141533
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [8] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141529
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-04-26 09:40:51
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-26 07:40:51
                    [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL

One of the key abilities for both individuals and countries to be mature and prosperous is to be able to learn from their past mistakes. Experience, no matter how painful or absurd, holds valuable lessons for the future. The most precious of these lessons are the acquired skills to recognize what specific mistakes led to catastrophic situations and avoid them by all means in the future.

In 1996 the Albanian political scene, despite fundamental differences in context and specificities, had quite some semblances to the current political crisis in Albania. The majority of the time ignored the risks of amassing unchecked power, ignored and belittled the opposition (latter to exert violence on it as well) and went on an absurd adventure to support fake opposition members of parliament. It sounds familiar because it is. The results of these mistakes was the disastrous period of 1996-1997 which costs Albania too much in terms of human lives, years of development progress, terrible country image and so on. It was a deeply bitter catastrophe that could have been avoided had the political players moved with more maturity and responsibility.

It is ironic that even the declarations from those dark times are sadly recycled in the last years. From the then communist style “Skrapar has fallen!” calls of the state controlled media to the now declarations that “the bastion of Kavaja has turned purple” from the still state controlled private media, the absurdity has a way to rise from the ashes again and again. Skrapar a stronghold of the left and its counterpart Kavaja on the right, alongside the rest of Albania, are definitely none the better because of it.

Fast forward more than two decades alter and sadly the lesson of that time seems to be lost on both national and international stakeholders. The decision of the real opposition to boycott the upcoming local elections is in line with their decision to be out of the system and not grant legitimacy to it. This decision turns a new more radical and decisive page in the revolt of the opposition and presents major risks to the short term stability of the country.

Whatever majority rulers or ambassadors say, the mostly caricature figures that fill in the seats of the Assembly now cannot be counted as the proper opposition of the country. They have neither the profile nor the legitimacy to fit the task. The solution of the crisis can never come unless the real sides get to agree. Any shortcut to circumvent this is a dangerous exercise.

Time has come to break free from the vicious circle of amnesia, to overcome this debilitating inability to learn from the past. The simple key lesson that holds the solution here is: don’t meddle with elections. Putting in place the right guarantees and the consensus spirit that political parties will not manipulate elections by money, pressure, blackmail, fraud and organized crime, as well as by public administration and police is the step to break the cycle.

The past is gone and all it can do now is to beg to be remembered. But we can still shape the future.
                    [post_title] => Editorial: The lessons of the painful past beg to be remembered
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => editorial-the-lessons-of-the-painful-past-beg-to-be-remembered
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-04-26 09:40:51
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-26 07:40:51
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141529
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [9] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141406
                    [post_author] => 29
                    [post_date] => 2019-04-19 10:23:14
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-19 08:23:14
                    [post_content] => By Ilir Meta 

In the capacities of the President of the Republic and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Albania, but especially as a witness and protagonist of my country’s nearly 30-year-old Euro-Atlantic journey, I would like to share with you some views and stands about this important process. 

After the great political upheavals and transformations that took place during the 1990s, Albania inherited a completely militarized state based on the concept of ‘the entire people ready to serve as soldiers’ who would fight against the two superpowers of that time, by consuming every year up to 20% of our country’s citizens’ GDP.

The new era of political pluralism, the first steps taken towards the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights, a free market economy, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, were accompanied by a strong political willingness to join the Western collective security and the European values as well.

Albania, in 1994 was among the first four countries belonging to the former Eastern Camp that signed the PFP initiative with NATO and during the 1999 Washington Summit, it was involved and included in the MAP program by being accepted as an aspiring country.

We celebrated in Tirana, just a few days ago, the 10th anniversary of our NATO membership marking one of the most important dates in Albania’s and Albanians’ modern history and an historic event not only for our country, but also for the Western Balkans region.

This process would not have been successful without the sincere support and assistance provided by our friends and partners: NATO member countries.

Albania, during its NATO accession process, has undergone profound transformations, faced and overcame difficult challenges, and has marked tremendous achievements.

Domestic political transformations, constitutional and legal, economic system reforms, but especially the deep reform in our foreign policy, security and defense system, constitute the most prominent achievements of my country in fulfilling the obligations required to join NATO.

Establishing the democratic civilian control over security and defense structures and transforming Albanian Armed Forces from a people’s army with Cold War concepts into a modern small and professional army is the most impressive aspect of this process.

I would like to stress that not only during this deep transformation process of Albanian society, but even at the present day, the constant support of Albanian citizens (over 90% of them), and that of the public opinion, civil society and the broad political and inclusive consensus are the elements that highlight the case of Albania’s membership in NATO, showing therefore not only the political orientation, but above and first of all, the orientation and Western affiliation of the Albanians.

Our commitment to NATO and our engagement does not serves only our national security and our country’s development, but above all, it represents a great responsibility to serve the peace, stability and security of our region, of the Mediterranean one and beyond them as well.

Albania’s geostrategic position is a challenging potential in the interest of NATO’s engagement but at the same time an envious and attractive ground for the ambitions and goals of other state and non-state actors aimed at weakening the Alliance, the division of the European Union and undermining the cooperation and mutual trust that unites us in NATO and in the European Union as well.

Therefore Albania strongly supports the “Open Doors” policy to expand the Alliance with the other countries of our region.

We are convinced that Montenegro’s accession into NATO was a just and necessary action taken to have a regional and geostrategic impact. The Alliance proved its strength, power and determination by successfully challenging serious attempts aimed at forcing this process to fail.

We are happy today for the end of the lengthy saga of the dispute between Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia and the signing of the Prespa Agreement, because I am convinced that the membership of our neighboring country in NATO and in the European Union too marks another cornerstone of security and the stability of the Western Balkans.

Albania thinks that the acceleration of Kosova’ steps and those of the remaining countries of our region towards NATO and European Union would serve not only the long-term security and stability of the Balkans, but also the economic cooperation and growth and the increase of foreign investments, mainly from the North Atlantic Alliance and of the European Union member countries.

The legacy from the not so distant and bitter past, is still alive in the region. The prejudices, particularly the ethnic ones, continue to pop up and to hinder the indispensable process of reconciliation and cooperation among the countries and peoples in the region, – a vital challenge for its security and future.

My country, which once was a consumer of security, today is a contributor to the stability and security in our region and beyond it.

Albania will take over the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office in 2020 and is prepared for that challenge.

The increasing ambitions and the “geo-strategic expansion” of third actors, state or non-state actors in the Western Balkans and beyond it, remain a potential and challenging threat and danger for both the Western Balkans and the Alliance per se.

Therefore, we deem that the NATO’s role and continuation of its presence in Kosova and our region, is crucial for the peace and Euro-Atlantic values.

Our Euro-Atlantic agenda is faced today also with the increasing threat of the religious radicalization and terrorism, with violent extremism, with foreign fighters and the consequences of their war, with illegal migration and human and narcotics trafficking, which threaten and endanger our national interests and those of the Alliance.

Yet again, the current world order appears to face major challenges of balances of powers.

New potential conflicts, the crisis of multilateralism, new forms of international cooperation, cyber and hybrid attacks, and the emerging of new economic powers with obvious and noticeable ambitions for geopolitical expansion, are threatening the current and the future of our societies.

The rapid pace of globalization, climate changes, the fight to establish the monopoly over resources and energy corridors are issues that have sparked intense debates in the framework of transatlantic relations trying to challenge them.

Under such conditions, we need to strengthen our partnership and mutual trust within the Alliance, to enhance and increase our co-operation, to share our experiences and information, especially among the relevant specialized agencies and security structures.

Albania guarantees to fulfill its responsibilities, about its engagement, commitment and solidarity enshrined in the principle of “the collective defense and security” of each NATO member country and of the strategic interests of the Alliance.

Albania has made available its entire infrastructure to the benefit of collective defense and the Alliance’s operations and military exercises by demonstrating itself as a reliable partner and leader in all regional initiatives with a view to enhance the confidence among the countries of the region, strengthening the cooperation and sharing of its membership experience.

In its 10 years of membership, Albania remains a major contributor to the implementation of United States and NATO initiatives and projects, contributing to peacebuilding and increasing mutual trust and stability in the region.

After its accession, Albania increased its ambitions and contributions of the NATO’s obligations by receiving deservingly in 2012 its official appreciation as “one of the 5 model countries for reforms, its defense budget, fulfillment of obligations and contributions for NATO” thanks to the 500 persons at the same time contribution placed at the disposal of the Alliance.

During its 10 years of membership, Albania has carried out important defense modernization projects such as the: Naval Space Monitoring, Patrol Ships, Helicopters, Special Forces, new Uniforms, High Security Course, Strategic Studies Center, digitalization of personnel data, the exemplary project of demolition of inherited ammunition (about 300,000 5 tons of ammunition), creating the museum and image of the Armed Forces; signing of several understanding agreements regarding Special Forces, Intelligence, Paris Protocol / SOFA, exchanging the classified information, etc.

Ever since 1996, my country has contributed to international missions alongside allied countries with about 8,000 men and women in uniform, a significant figure for a country with modest opportunities and counting on a relatively small population.

Almost all of our military personnel have contributed and taken part in NATO missions, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chad, Mali and Kosova.

By actually contributing to the international operations of the Alliance and the European Union with 210 military personnel, we are ranked third when it comes to percentage of the population for contributions to international operations.

Albania is seriously engaged in the Global Coalition for the destruction of the so-called Islamic State, and developing new capabilities and technologies to tackle the terrorist threat and to manage the consequences of a terrorist attack by substantially contributing to this very important challenge.

In the framework of its commitment in the global counter-terrorism efforts my country has taken concrete steps to establish the Center of Excellence combating the phenomenon of Terrorist Foreign Fighters.

The selection of Kuçova’s as the location of NATO’s modern air base is a strategic investment to the benefit of our national security, region and projects and also of the long-term goals of the Alliance in Western Balkans and beyond it, and also the expression of the mutual trust and appreciation of Albania’s contributions to the North Atlantic Alliance.

Any commitment and project that serves the strategic goals of the Alliance and strengthening of its role in the Balkans will enjoy my support for the timely and serious implementation as a major and national obligation.

I will urge and encourage the increase of the defense budget during the upcoming years because it is a priority and also as a commitment and engagement to the Alliance.

I am convinced that in this way, we will efficiently and proactively respond and answer to the new threats, dangers and challenges of security and improving the spirit of solidarity within the Alliance.

Ladies and gentleman,

On March 24th, 1999, NATO’s intervention in Kosova marked an extraordinary mission that not only prevented a humanitarian catastrophe and brought to an end the killing and ethnic cleansing of Albanians, but above all, established the peace and contributed to the security and stability of the region.

I reiterate my deep gratitude to the United States and to all the member countries that successfully completed that noble mission.

“We won the war, but you are the ones who need to gain the peace.” – stated former United States President Clinton during his visit to Kosova, that took place in November of 1999.

Albania, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, is determined not only to preserve this peace, but also to seriously remain committed to the common geostrategic challenges that the Alliance faces in the region and beyond it.

It is ready to take on all the responsibilities required from it, and to particularly fulfilling its irreplaceable role as a factor of stability in the region, as a tireless promoter of regional cooperation and integration, as a firm supporter of the NATO’s “Open Doors Policy” and as an Alliance’ strategic partner by following and implementing a coherent and credible foreign policy.

While expressing my warm congratulations on the occasion of the Alliance’s 70th anniversary and thanking you for your attention, I would like to extend to you the invitation to visit my country which, as you may know, enjoys a special cultural heritage, possesses a marvelous tourist seashore and mountainous environment, but above all, cherishes a unique hospitality that you cannot find anywhere else.

*This speech was held at the NATO Defense College in Rome 
                    [post_title] => “Albania’s NATO commitment is a commitment to the region” 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => albanias-nato-commitment-is-a-commitment-to-the-region
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-04-19 10:23:14
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-19 08:23:14
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141406
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

        )

    [post] => WP_Post Object
        (
            [ID] => 141764
            [post_author] => 29
            [post_date] => 2019-05-17 10:34:14
            [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-17 08:34:14
            [post_content] => TIRANA TIMES EDITORIAL 

The German tabloid Bild published an article about the situation in Albania focusing on the opposition protests and on the political crisis and featuring a photo where the Molotov bottles of the protesters erupt in flames. More telling than the article though, were the multiple comments of readers underneath its posting in social media. Likely travelers were telling each other that it was best they cancelled plans to visit Albania in the summer. One particular bitter posting read: I can’t believe we were thinking to go here this year!

There is an acrimonious unfairness that is hitting tourism operators quite hard as they are seeing cancelations or pending reservations add up on their screens. They depend largely on the few months of summer to generate incomes that will keep their business floating for the entire year. If individual potential tourists think like this, then one could only imagine the complex calculations that will keep investors and likely businesses off for a much longer time than just a summer season.

Whereas the political and European integration costs of the current crisis in Albania have been discussed at length, not much has been said about the definite negative impact on economy. This bearing is becoming more visible and more vocal by the day. Business operators, economy journalists and even the President of the Republic called this week for more attention to the fallout on economy. The toll that the current and the expected instability of the country is taking on sectors such as tourism, trade and investment in fact merits much more coverage and analysis.

Indeed economy is an additional important concern to a problematic situation. The very system of checks and balances has been upset in Albania. The parliament, the highest and most prestigious platform of popular legitimacy has been sadly transformed into a freak show. The violence is growing. The police demonstrated very unprofessional conduct last time when it hit a protesting leadership member of the DP while he was running away and caused him severe injuries.  Another protest has been announced for May 25.

The political crisis has reached the point in which it resembles the darkest tunnel with no end in sight.

In the middle of this darkness, the behavior of the majority is bordering on cruel blind cynicism. After registering its candidates for local elections, a move that defies any logic of compromise, it extended a hypercritical offer of dialogue to the protesting opposition. The offer which is vested in ridicule and arrogance is in fact an alibi and an attempt to present the opposition as the aggressive side that refuses negotiations to both the domestic public and more importantly to the international community. Therefore “dialogue” is being used once again as a de facto ‘weapon’ in the arsenal of political infighting.  

As the set date for local elections approaches the perfect storm of instability, discontent and destructiveness is being assembled with the special care of irresponsible politicians on both sides. All the indicators are clear and point to the fact that the costs of the storm explosion can be detrimental to Albania, both in terms of stability and economy. This can and will set Albania back at least a decade, signaling the most remarkable regress and closing off for a long time any feasible perspective of EU integration, which, considering the EU’s internal dynamic, was difficult to attain in the first place.

The solution can and should be found as soon as possible. It is already becoming too late.

 
            [post_title] => Editorial: Quo vadis Albania? A darkening storm with no end in sight
            [post_excerpt] => 
            [post_status] => publish
            [comment_status] => closed
            [ping_status] => closed
            [post_password] => 
            [post_name] => editorial-quo-vadis-albania-a-darkening-storm-with-no-end-in-sight
            [to_ping] => 
            [pinged] => 
            [post_modified] => 2019-05-17 10:34:14
            [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-17 08:34:14
            [post_content_filtered] => 
            [post_parent] => 0
            [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141764
            [menu_order] => 0
            [post_type] => post
            [post_mime_type] => 
            [comment_count] => 0
            [filter] => raw
        )

    [queried_object] => stdClass Object
        (
            [term_id] => 30
            [name] => Op-Ed
            [slug] => op-ed
            [term_group] => 0
            [term_taxonomy_id] => 30
            [taxonomy] => category
            [description] => 
            [parent] => 0
            [count] => 846
            [filter] => raw
            [cat_ID] => 30
            [category_count] => 846
            [category_description] => 
            [cat_name] => Op-Ed
            [category_nicename] => op-ed
            [category_parent] => 0
        )

    [queried_object_id] => 30
    [post__not_in] => Array
        (
        )

)

Latest News

Read More