Head of Albanian Trade Protection: “Business is stronger than a corrupt state”

Head of Albanian Trade Protection: “Business is stronger than a corrupt state”

TIRANA, May 27 – The Head of the Association for the Protection of Traders and Albanian Trade Nikollaq Neranxi called on all Albanian entrepreneurs and business owners alike to meet in the face of the economic decline threatening the country.

Read Full Article

Editorial: Dialogue and the resetting solution- escaping “too little too late”

The last hours in the Albanian political scene have witnessed a flurry of communications, of a more personal nature, in the forms of exchanged letters and social media postings between the Albanian Prime Minister Rama and the leader of the

Read Full Article
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
WP_Query Object
(
    [query_vars] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 30
            [paged] => 2
            [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] => 
            [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] => 857
    [max_num_pages] => 86
    [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] => 1
    [is_admin] => 
    [is_attachment] => 
    [is_singular] => 
    [is_robots] => 
    [is_posts_page] => 
    [is_post_type_archive] => 
    [query_vars_hash:WP_Query:private] => a0ad0b22f05d2f4fdacc4dc7c0ac86a8
    [query_vars_changed:WP_Query:private] => 
    [thumbnails_cached] => 1
    [stopwords:WP_Query:private] => 
    [query] => Array
        (
            [cat] => 30
            [paged] => 2
        )

    [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 10, 10
    [posts] => Array
        (
            [0] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141907
                    [post_author] => 281
                    [post_date] => 2019-05-30 16:03:28
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-30 14:03:28
                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 27 - The Head of the Association for the Protection of Traders and Albanian Trade Nikollaq Neranxi called on all Albanian entrepreneurs and business owners alike to meet in the face of the economic decline threatening the country.

“The situation we are going through is critical. The decline in consumption as a result of the increasing poverty is getting worse by the day, as well as the massive departure of Albanians, has brought the honest, formal business that is not a customer of power to fight for survival,” Neranxi wrote in his article.

What further deepens the problem, Neranxi says, is the state’s inclination to act as a fine-giver, while business owners have nowhere to complain regarding these inconsistencies because there is no court to complain to.

“The Constitutional Court and the High Court do not work! In these extreme conditions, we as entrepreneurs need to unite and make decisions, even extreme, to save our work that we created with sweat and which is seeking to destroy us deliberately! Our strength is greater than the intrigues of power over us,” Neranxi concluded. 

 
                    [post_title] => Head of Albanian Trade Protection: “Business is stronger than a corrupt state” 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => head-of-albanian-trade-protection-business-is-stronger-than-a-corrupt-state
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-05-30 16:11:40
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-30 14:11:40
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141907
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [1] => WP_Post Object
                (
                    [ID] => 141877
                    [post_author] => 338
                    [post_date] => 2019-05-24 14:44:13
                    [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-24 12:44:13
                    [post_content] => The last hours in the Albanian political scene have witnessed a flurry of communications, of a more personal nature, in the forms of exchanged letters and social media postings between the Albanian Prime Minister Rama and the leader of the Democratic Party Basha. In his first letter Rama opened an access point to sitting down and discussing the solution to the crisis appealing to Basha for an end of the protest violence as well as safeguarding the European perspective of the country. 

Basha’s response, though not written, was a rebuke of the format used last time, of last hour bilateral agreement, favoring major changes and not moving from the penultimate request of unseating the Prime Minister. Rama has followed with a second letter, more cynical this time where he does not shy away from expressing some sort of contentment with his perceived gradual death of the political support for Basha. However, according to Rama it is his responsibility to insist on dialogue. 

It is easy to categorize this kind of communication as “too little too late.” After all the insults, low blows, flame bottles and rocks, tear gas, death cries and the rest of the rhetorical and physical arsenal exchanged on both sides, this trial of dialogue seems futile. However it is never too late in politics. It is never too late particularly when we are talking about the future of a country, its safety and stability, its integration and democracy. 

In order to start and sustain a real, honest and constructive dialogue the timing is less important than the agenda. In this regard, the primary item on this dialogue should be the strategic and systematic resetting of the rules of the game starting from the democratic development essentials to the preservation of the checks and balances and reaching up to the guarantees for national consensus when it comes to EU integration. 

At present all these irreplaceable components of a functional modern state are either ailing or missing. Elections which stand at the foundations of the system are contested, the separation of powers is in deep disarray due to the justice reform delays and inconsistencies, and the European future of the country is less secure then ever due to both internal and external factors. 

An extended hand for dialogue is welcome. So far the approach of all the third actors has been reluctant or confused in relation to the potential dialogue, very likely due to the extreme positions of the two sides. The president says he cannot make it happen, the internationals have failed repeatedly or have feigned indifference and inertia. The real losers in this situation are the citizens who lack the power and the voice to change the situation or the resources to have alternative plans. 

The responsibility of dialogue now stands firmly on the domestic politicians. Being clear and ambitious on the agenda is the right first step.
                    [post_title] => Editorial: Dialogue and the resetting solution- escaping “too little too late” 
                    [post_excerpt] => 
                    [post_status] => publish
                    [comment_status] => closed
                    [ping_status] => closed
                    [post_password] => 
                    [post_name] => editorial-dialogue-and-the-resetting-solution-escaping-too-little-too-late
                    [to_ping] => 
                    [pinged] => 
                    [post_modified] => 2019-05-24 15:03:40
                    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-24 13:03:40
                    [post_content_filtered] => 
                    [post_parent] => 0
                    [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141877
                    [menu_order] => 0
                    [post_type] => post
                    [post_mime_type] => 
                    [comment_count] => 0
                    [filter] => raw
                )

            [2] => 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
                )

            [3] => 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
                )

            [4] => 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
                )

            [5] => 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
                )

            [6] => 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
                )

            [7] => 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
                )

            [8] => 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
                )

            [9] => 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
                )

        )

    [post] => WP_Post Object
        (
            [ID] => 141907
            [post_author] => 281
            [post_date] => 2019-05-30 16:03:28
            [post_date_gmt] => 2019-05-30 14:03:28
            [post_content] => TIRANA, May 27 - The Head of the Association for the Protection of Traders and Albanian Trade Nikollaq Neranxi called on all Albanian entrepreneurs and business owners alike to meet in the face of the economic decline threatening the country.

“The situation we are going through is critical. The decline in consumption as a result of the increasing poverty is getting worse by the day, as well as the massive departure of Albanians, has brought the honest, formal business that is not a customer of power to fight for survival,” Neranxi wrote in his article.

What further deepens the problem, Neranxi says, is the state’s inclination to act as a fine-giver, while business owners have nowhere to complain regarding these inconsistencies because there is no court to complain to.

“The Constitutional Court and the High Court do not work! In these extreme conditions, we as entrepreneurs need to unite and make decisions, even extreme, to save our work that we created with sweat and which is seeking to destroy us deliberately! Our strength is greater than the intrigues of power over us,” Neranxi concluded. 

 
            [post_title] => Head of Albanian Trade Protection: “Business is stronger than a corrupt state” 
            [post_excerpt] => 
            [post_status] => publish
            [comment_status] => closed
            [ping_status] => closed
            [post_password] => 
            [post_name] => head-of-albanian-trade-protection-business-is-stronger-than-a-corrupt-state
            [to_ping] => 
            [pinged] => 
            [post_modified] => 2019-05-30 16:11:40
            [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-05-30 14:11:40
            [post_content_filtered] => 
            [post_parent] => 0
            [guid] => http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=141907
            [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] => 857
            [filter] => raw
            [cat_ID] => 30
            [category_count] => 857
            [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