By Peter Tase
The fulcrum of Albania’s shattered economy is Edi Rama’s autocratic leadership that has turned his country into a hotbed of organized crime activities and underground deals that harm national interests. The very same criminal groups have used active measures to purchase ballots and bribing constituents only a few weeks before the Parliamentary elections took place on April 25, 2021, boosting the popularity of Socialist Party of Albania and ensuring Edi Rama’s continuation into power.
Although the OSCE representatives in the ground had expressed their concerns about the poor standard of these elections, and majority of citizens have succumbed into misery and poverty (in the last eight years); a number of western Embassies in Tirana rushed to congratulate the incumbent Prime Minister and tacitly encourage him to continue with his strategy of harboring organized crime, pawning the Albanian territory, including oil and gas reserves (of unspecified size) to EU affiliated corporations, in order to demonstrate that he is the one who ensured the opening of negotiations with the EU. Edi Rama is using all dirty tricks, just like North Macedonia, by distracting the international authorities and continues to avoid the fulfillment of the 15 points criteria and ignores the Copenhagen principles.
Rama’s gold rush is simply encouraged by the current economic crisis that has torn Albania apart, with these negotiations Rama hopes to secure more cash donated by Brussels and aspires to bypass the role of the president in ratifying any agreement with the European Union. Albania’s problems are emphasized clearly on page 60 of EU’s main document that establishes the roadmap of this long and complex process of negotiations.
The administration of Albania’s Foreign Policy and reemergence of corrupt diplomats before the public opinion with their hypocritical statements, among them Fatos Tarifa, Artur Kuko and beer aficionado Ilir Boçka (well known for his bank accounts in Cyprus); groomed by Edi Rama, are additional reasons why the country is in shambles.
Furthermore, Albania’s posture and relations with its neighboring countries are harming its very national sovereignty and maritime boundaries. In this context, what are the tenets of political agreement with Greece and why is Edi Rama keeping this document away from the public’s eye?
The Foreign Affairs Minister of Greece Nikos Dendias had clearly articulated in a radio interview that:
Political agreement for addressing the delimitation of economic exclusive zones between Greece and Albania in the International Court of Justice in Hague has been agreed since October 2020.”
From this paramount statement made by Minister Dendias are rising the following questions for Edi Rama to answer:
1. What is this agreement?
2. What is the content of such a bilateral agreement?
3. Why hasn’t this agreement made public, to become known by all Albanians, because the territory of Albania is not a property of Edi Rama?
4. What has stopped Tirana to make public such an important bilateral agreement?
5. In addition to Edi Rama and Executive Branch has there been a participation of any other constitutional institutions, if yes, what has been their contribution in this agreement?
6. Has there been a series of consultations with representatives of civil society, historians, experts of maritime disputes and experts of international law?
7. What role has been played by the negotiations’ teams in drafting this agreement with Greece?
8. When, were and who has signed this agreement?
9. Who has approved this agreement?
10. Where is deposited such an important agreement?
A course correction is immediately needed for the Rama Government as it pertains to the bilateral negotiations with Athens. There is no doubt that underhand tactics and ongoing dialogue veiled with secrecy will make things from bad to worse in a very short time. Transparency is key for negotiations to be effective and have a lasting impact for both nations. A full response and transparency are an obligation for Edi Rama, he cannot avoid answering these questions, because maritime boundaries of Albania are at risk and this swath of water is not Rama’s backyard pond.