By Peter Tase
As the Albanian Government is shivering from the upcoming, long awaited decision from EU member countries in regards to enabling Tirana’s engagement in accession negotiations, Edi Rama’s government and Members of Parliament are jeopardizing the independence of institutions, national democratic aspirations, harming government transparency, threatening journalists and constantly harassing the Albanian head of state.
Furthermore Prime Minister Edi Rama has undertaken a series of initiatives that are violating democratic principles and is exerting tremendous pressure against the Information Media Community in the country.
Over the last two years, Edi Rama has orchestrated a well sophisticated smear campaign against the President of Albania H. E. Mr. Ilir Meta, who has proved to be Albania’s sole guardian of the country’s political constitution.
In early August, the President of the Republic of Albania, H. E. Ilir Meta expressed a deep concern on the measures taken by Edi Rama’s Executive Government that would violate the freedom of media and rebel against fundamental rights that are so cherished in a democratic society.
The Albanian head of state outlined that: “the Anti-Defamation legal initiative proposed by the Executive Government, is simply taking Albania into its dark communist days, over thirty years earlier.”
In a press release, President Ilir Meta stressed the crucial role of the government and of the Parliament to carefully review and “consider all of the suggestions placed forward by the community of journalists with the proper care and attention that they deserve.”
At a time when Albanian Society is struggling to fight organized crime and deter the frightening permeation of criminal politicians into the top echelons of ministries and public administration offices; President Meta has expressed his conviction that “the active engagement of institutions and of our society in support of freedom of expression serves as an indicator of democracy and good governance.”
Moreover, in a subsequent press conference in Tirana, President Ilir Meta emphasized that the freedom of expression is: “a fundamental human right and an implacable and vital pillar of a modern and democratic society. The media guarantees accountability by all of the public institutions.” The drop by seven places in the World Media Freedom Index, according to the findings of the World Reporters without borders, shows that Information Media in Albania is partially free and the Albanian Executive Branch is breaching international laws and European legal norms.
According to the Albanian Head of State: “The Albanian authorities are not fulfilling nor meeting their obligations under the domestic laws and refuse to respect international instruments; they are hesitant to guarantee the freedom of expression and independence of the media, there has been a deterioration of security and working conditions for journalists and access of information is jeopardized.”
In the same vein: “the preliminary report of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) highlighted that ‘the large media outlets serve as lobbying platforms for their owners, therefore placing under question marks their editorial independence and imposing self-censorship.’”
The pertinent reports demonstrate the urgency of addressing the deterioration levels of the freedom of media in Albania, the country’s journalists are faced with a disturbing situation that threatens their personal integrity and professional accuracy.
In his statement delivered to the nation on this matter, President Ilir Meta has ensured the community of journalists that he will always support their constitutional efforts and is keen to strengthen free speech, and promote the highest standards of Information Media. In his closing remarks, Mr. Ilir Meta stated that: “Albania’s path to European Union is impossible without a free and independent media.”