An era of autocrats

An era of autocrats
This article has been written for Albanian Free Press newspaper and

By  Frrok Çupi

The word “era” in the Albanian language has two meanings: the meaning of “wind”, blowing from north to south, for instance, but also the meaning of “age”. And so, an era of autocrats is blowing, especially in the Balkans!

The autocrat, Recep Tayip Erdogan arrived in Turkey and this goes without saying. But in the West of Istanbul, other smaller autocrats are emerging. Of course, “smaller”, because the countries west of Erdogan are smaller and with fewer people. Like the Ottoman Empire left it.

But the autocratic model is the same.

After the April 16 Referendum, Turkey’s Erdogan takes supreme powers in governing  Turkey. Some of the largest world media have considered him as the new “Sultan”, something which has upset Mr. Erdogan. Some other researchers have described Erdogan’s “constitutional” work in concentrating all powers in his hands as “the death of the Turkish Republic” and return to the Ottoman period.

The truth is that with the constitutional changes that offer president Erdogan exclusive unlimited powers, the republican heritage left by the founder of new post-Ottoman Turkey, Kemal Attaturk, falls.

According to the new Constitution, which has been changed through the vote of the April 16 referendum with 51% of people voting  in favor of it, president Erdogan takes executive powers. Turkey will no longer have a Prime Minister. All decisions will be made by the President; the age of MPs in Parliament is reduced from 25 to 18 (the country can easily be governed by teenagers). The president’s decisions can only be challenged in the Supreme Court, which has 15 judges, 12 of which are elected by the President.

The autocratic wave arriving in the rest of Balkans, especially in Serbia and Albania is based on Erdogan’s model.

In Serbia, the election of Aleksandar Vucic as president of the Republic has caused a lot of concern for Serbs and Western monitors too. Vucic has been considered as a “born autocrat”, with a modern image. The main cause for concern relates to the suspicions that Vucic will follow the model of the former president Milosevic. Slobodan Likosevic was the autocrat president of Serbia, who was tried by the Hague Tribunal for “war crimes” and who died in prison.  At a young age, Vucic was a great admirer of Milosevic and then of Sjesjl. He has served as minister in Milosevic’s government, he has been a fervent supporter of the Serb national supremacy over other neighboring nations and initiator of the movement called “if they kill one Serb, we will kill 100 Muslims”.

Elected as president of Serbia with a majority of votes, he’s expected to appoint a “puppet” for Prime Minister, in order for him to obey the president on everything, until he eventually decides to change the Constitution and attribute himself an executive role.

In Albania, where a serious political crisis is taking place, there are clear tendencies for an autocratic power of Prime Minister Edi Rama. The opposition which has started a protest in the past two months, has reached a conclusion that the country needs a New Republic.  According to the opposition, the Prime Minister has projected an “autocratic republic” or a “tyrant republic”.  The Albanian Prime Minister has manifested several signs of autocracy, although he hasn’t yet managed to have “his own” constitution. He has diverted the economic development of the country from manufacturing and an open legal market to an illegal market of narcotic substances. He ignores the opposition and he demands a monist power. Parliament has been filled with criminals, murderers and traffickers. According to the opposition, public funds have been used to serve the interests of the governing clan and to enrich an oligarchy. Rama himself has manifested signs of fondness for the past by building a cult around Enver Hoxha, with the bunkers and by expressing disdain for  the victims of the regime. Placing himself in the role of God, he has considered people as “sheep” and himself as their shepherd.

What do the “small” ones and the “Sultan” have in common?

  1. All the sides manifesting signs of autocracy have returned to their national past. Erdogan, who is fond of the Ottoman period and its rules, ruined Attaturk’s Republic and is going back to the governing rules of a Sultan. Without Milosevic’s name (who is still hated), Vucic is trying to restore Milosevic’s methods. For instance, his idea to make Albania part of Serbia, relates to that past. Edi Rama is “oppressing” the weak, like his predecessor Hoxha did during the dictatorship.
  2. The typical atmosphere in search of autocratic power is felt in all three governments. In its history, autocracy has been demanded by the masses as a way out of a serious situation, as a result of repeated attacks by gangs, endless unrest, etc. Erdogan, who had not been bothered during his period in power, invented a coup d’etat on 15 July 2016, where he defeated his enemies and demanded people for “more personal power”. In Albania, economic poverty is on the verge of hunger and the country has been cultivated with narcotic substance, acting as a threat for the West too. Public safety is almost zero. The Prime Minister, who cultivated the drugs, has pledged that he will “destroy” it, but with a strong hand, by using the army. Serbia’s Vucic has announced that Serbia is aging due to emigration and has also announced strong measures for the economy, but for this, he “needs” more personal power.
  3. The use of the “external enemy”

President Erdogan used the EU. He told Turks that the “EU left Turkey waiting for 54 years in front of the doors of Europe and now, we don’t need to be part of the EU anymore!”  Then he attacked Europeans as “nephews of Nazism”. All of this to create a climate of hostility against the other and confidence on “my power”. Both Serbia’s Vucic and Albania’s Rama have been following this tactic for the past two years. Initially under the umbrella of chancellor Merkel, as “saviors” of Europe from the “Ukrainian” phenomenon. Then they invented a “row” between them to spark the old conflict between Serbia and Albania. And in the end, they have invented the “threat” of a war in the Balkans. The one that governs in Tirana openly told Europe that “if you don’t come, someone else will take us”. On the other hand, some media are making up the “Russian invasion” of the country…

Now, we have three autocrat “brothers”.

The republication of this article is strictly forbidden without a written permission from the Albanian Free Press newsroom

Note: The stances expressed in the Opinion section do not necessarily represent the editorial line of Albanian Free Press

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