A review of 2017

A review of 2017
This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and www.afp.al

By Plator Nesturi

1.Political situation

The end of 2017 offered the same picture filled with constant tension, which we often see in Albanian politics. Although clashes in parliament or the media seem serious, they’re still in the form of declarations and this continuity of tension has turned it into aggressive normality. However, PM Rama manages to keep the situation under control thanks to the media. The majority of media outlets are pro government media. Meanwhile, the DP in opposition is still unable to find the right strength to come out of the impasse of the two electoral defeats in a row. At the meantime, within the right wing opposition, structures are demotivated and in a state of full anarchy. This makes PM Rama’s confrontations with the opposition much easier, despite the numerous problems that have emerged in the past few months.

The SMI in opposition is still not playing the role that it claimed it would play since the beginning. Meta’s departure from the party after being elected president and his replacement by his wife, Monika, as head of the party, has lowered the profile even more. Meanwhile, the other party, Party for Justice, Integrity and Unity of the Cham community, seems to have been dismantled, although it supports PM Rama. One of its MPs handed his resignation, while the mandate of another one has been requested to be revoked as he’s accused of theft in Italy. In the first case, the resignation is thought to relate to the law on decriminalization.

Cannabis and Tahiri’s case

2017 may be considered as a record year in terms of the amounts of cannabis and other drugs seized in Albania, Italy and Greece, substances originating from our country. Now, cultivated areas seem to have dropped significantly. The government considers this as a success in the fight against cannabis in the country. The opposition and the media in general relate this reduction of cultivated areas to other reasons, such as the stock, the drastic fall of the price and the falling support by police, which, up until yesterday, turned a blind eye or they had become part of the market of cannabis. The case of Tahiri, the former Interior minister, was a serious blow on the government’s reputation. Nonetheless, Tahiri’s involvement in a ring of drug traffic is not a product of the investigations made by Albanian institutions, but by the prosecution of Catania, Italy. The inquest on Tahiri continues in the Court of Serious Crimes, although the former minister remains an MP.

2. Reform in justice. Vetting and institutions

The reform in the justice system remains the key focus of many politicians of both sides, however, the process is sometimes blocked and sometimes it moves forward, but very slowly. In fact, all constitutional deadlines for the creation of vetting institutions have long been exceeded.

3. The election of the Interim Prosecutor General. The opposition’s protest

The opposition boycotted the process of voting and held a protest outside parliament. In the end, the new Prosecutor General ArtaMarku was appointed with the votes of 69 socialist MPs in a Parliament of 140 seats. The new chief prosecutor has started to move many prosecutors, while the US embassy in Tirana said that it was happy that a Prosecutor General who did not launch any investigations on politicians left office.

4.Bushati-Kotzias meeting and Greek-Albanian relations

During the previous term in office of Prime Minister Rama, relations between Albanian and Greece cooled and every once in a while, they aggravated. The declarations made by both sides were far from being diplomatic and often implied threatening tones. Greece raised its tones in particular about the issue of the protection of the properties and human rights of the Greek ethnic population in Albania, while Tirana considered this as interference in its internal affairs, while reminding Greece about the massacres on the Cham population in the World War II and the fact that this country has not yet abrogated the war law with Albania. After the frequent contacts made by the two ministers in the UN during the month of September, it was decided to hold a round of talks which would address all the pending issues between the two countries. The meeting was held in Crete on 17 November and lasted three days. None of the sides gave many details after the meeting, but they said that they discussed a number of issues starting with the issue of maritime border, which has been blocked by the Albanian Constitutional Court, the war law, the cemeteries of the Greek soldiers fallen during the Italian-Greek war, the issue of properties that affect citizens of both countries and the signing of a new Treaty of Friendship, etc. However, no agreement was reported, not even a partial one, but there will be a second round of talks in Korca, Albania, during the month of January. Meanwhile, the Greek Foreign Minister has declared in Parliament and the Greek media that the war law is absurd and the necessary mechanisms should be found to abolish it.

5. The economy and the 1 billion euro fund of the government in partnership with the business

Economic figures saw an increase this year too. According to INSTAT, economic growth is 3.2%, which is, nonetheless, below the government’s target.During these two years, economic figures were also driven by two big investments taken place in the country, TAP pipeline which is completed in two months and the hydro power plant of Kalivac, another serious investment. Meanwhile, according to analysts, the completion of these investments is not seen as a good signal for the future.

Meanwhile, Rama’s government has undertaken a new incentive: the launch of a 1 billion euro fund for investments in infrastructure, etc, in partnership with the business sector. Analysts and the opposition say that this could bring further increases of domestic debt. At the same time, there have also been political accusations that these funds are being used as a way to launder the money of drug traffic by the supporters of the Prime Minister. Rama has dismissed these accusations, saying that these investments will be made through bank transactions.

Note: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Albanian Free Press’ editorial policy

Shpërndajeni me miqtë tuaj: