Albania officially takes over OSCE chairmanship

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 10, 2020 10:02

Albania officially takes over OSCE chairmanship

Story Highlights

  • “The current administration in Albania, caught in its obsession over facade and populist show, will drum around this chairmanship as a key foreign policy success. However even the most simple reflection over the facts reveals that it is a just a very costly endeavor with almost zero chances to bring any impact in Albania and much less in the rest of the OSCE community of states,” wrote Tirana Times at e previous editorial.

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TIRANA, Jan. 9 – Albania officially took over the OSCE Presidency on Thursday – a post to run throughout the entire 2020. 

This morning, Prime Minister and country’s Foreign Minister Edi Rama arrived in the office of the OSCE President in Vienna, where he was received by OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger. Rama called this a historic moment for Albania. 

“It is a very important day. I am very proud and have a very good cooperation. We have a very good team here with people of different nationalities,” Rama said.

Afterwards, Rama spoke and presented Albania’s program and priorities to the OSCE Permanent Council. Rama’s speech main focus was dialogue, but also the fight against crime, extremism, anti-Semitism, violence against women, tolerance, etc. 

Another priority, he said, is to promote freedom of expression and the media. Rama said that the mission would start from Ukraine.

“The crisis in Ukraine remains Europe’s biggest security challenge. Conflict resolution efforts will be at the top of our agenda. Ukraine will be my first destination as OSCE Chairperson. The fight for freedom of expression in the media and the fight against violence towards women are urgent priorities, as well as trafficking of human beings,” Rama said. 

Acting Foreign Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Gent Cakaj, also in Vienna with Rama, said “Albania is engaged to ensuring security.”

“Albania will lead the OSCE by committing to the real implementation of our principles and ensuring a comprehensive approach to co-operation within the organization,” Cakaj said in a statement to his profile on social networks. 

Asked whether he is ready to initiate real dialogue with Albanian opposition back home, Rama thanked journalists for the question and told them he would answer back in Tirana, as PM and head of the ruling majority, as he is now in Vienna under another context and format. 

OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger said that Albania is trustworthy and welcomes the organization’s leadership from our country. 

“I welcome the OSCE chairmanship of Albania. I am grateful that Albania already has the opportunity to lead our organization. Albania’s chairmanship is a historic achievement. You can count on me and the secretariat in full this year. I think Albania is very good at implementing the commitment. It is a trustworthy Albania, because it has faced many security challenges, and has had an OSCE presence on the ground for many years,” he said.

Rama, saying Albania will be engaged in promoting media freedom and encouraging free speech, was asked about the highly-debated ‘anti-libel’ package the Albanian government passed in parliament at the end of December amid multiple protests by journalists and international media freedom organizations alike. 

OSCE representatives in Albania have also spoken against the government’s anti-libel package, saying time and again it requires additional amendments to protect media freedom. 

During the conference from Vienna, Rama said he has OSCE’s full support of the package that was approved by the Socialist government. 

“The OSCE has not criticized the law. We have been working with the OSCE team for a long time to make sure that little clarification are made. The law that went to parliament had and is 100 percent supported by the OSCE, which means it is a piece of legislation that is in line with OSCE standards to find solutions to what we are experiencing for online media not only in Albania but all over the world,” he said.

Concerning all the controversial issues among which Albania is taking over the OSCE chairmanship, such as lack of dialogue with the main opposition parties at home, the challenges it is facing with combating corruption and organized crime, as well as its alleged attempts at threatening free speech, Rama and his government’s OSCE leadership claims have been either criticized by numerous field experts, or viewed with justified scepticism. 

“Prime Minister Rama may be the only figure with the deserving stature in his government worth considering for the role, but even he will not be able to as he will be increasingly preoccupied with internal political issues. It will be hard to pre-conceive that whatever peacekeeping mission priorities there may be for the organization, Rama will be able to allocate even a moment of his focus away from the byzantine mechanisms he is employing to install loyalists in the justice ‘reform.’ If he does not pursue this course, his opponents will; if he does not hijack the reform, others will. On top of this gloom are the ramifications of the November 26th earthquake, with which the government will be preoccupied in the first half of 2020,” Veton Surroi, Kosovo publicist, former journalist and politician, previously wrote in an op-ed for Tirana Times.

“The current administration in Albania, caught in its obsession over facade and populist show, will drum around this chairmanship as a key foreign policy success. However even the most simple reflection over the facts reveals that it is a just a very costly endeavor with almost zero chances to bring any impact in Albania and much less in the rest of the OSCE community of states,” wrote Tirana Times at e previous editorial. 

Rama also replied to this scepticism, saying he will work to convince the sceptics otherwise. 

“This is a historic task, as it is the first time that Albania has a role on the international stage. We started well today and set our priorities. We are not going to re-read the world or anything, but to make sure that the base remains as it is and is not broken by some dangerous winds. We want to make a difference on the ground. To fulfill our commitments together,” Rama said. 

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 10, 2020 10:02