By Viktor Daragjati/
The leader of the Socialist Party for Integration (LSI), Ilir Meta has accepted the invitation of the Socialist Party (PS) leader Edi Rama to form a joint coalition in the upcoming June 23 national elections. After a four year alliance with the Democratic Party (PD), Ilir Meta decided that it was time to create a new “political equilibrium”. His statement at a party leadership meeting did not criticize the last four years of participation in Berisha’s government nor did he change his position on the necessity to approve the three laws required by the European Union as a precondition for Albania to be favorably considered as a Member Candidate by the EU. However the words of Rama in announcing the new coalition “there is no going back to the past, we must look up to the future” do not resonate transparently with the events at hand.
Albania’s unfortunate past indeed was characterized by a harsh socialist dictatorship in which the state took full control of the economy only to generate resources barely adequate to prevent starvation, in favor of militarizing the country. The communist security apparatus was the largest and most unproductive employer competing only with the number of people imprisoned or constrained into hard labor camps. The politically persecuted people were forced to produce enough to comfortably sustain the repressive government while living on meager rations. Ironically, the future the Socialists offer Albania looks more similar the past we decay albeit in redecorated form. Rama and Meta offer a government that that would scare foreign investors scares Albanian emigrants from continuing to invest in the construction sector, the only significant industry in Albania and promises the manipulation of the fledgling free market system with demagogic government interference. It is unlikely that regional tourism, which increasingly includes Albanian destinations, would prosper under a socialist government.
In announcing the new coalition Edi Rama said that there is no place in Albania for left wing and right wing politics. There is place, he added, only for change. Political pluralism is not what Edi Rama seems to aim at. The son of a communist judge, infamous for summarily sentencing to prison and hard labor camps hundreds of innocent victims, wants to return Albania to a monoparty past. The wounds of communism are yet to be healed and Albanians should not believe in the repackaged promises of a resurrected past. Those who do not learn from history will see their future replaced by their past, a past that in Albania’s case threatens the most unpredictable political and economic scenarios.
Other concerns includes Albania’s relationship with NATO, the West in general, the status of Kosova, the status of the former victims of communism, the relationship with socialist Greece which has never refrained from territorial and maritime claims at the expense of Albania’s sovereignty.
Several questions remain open. The leader of the parliamentary group of LSI, Lefter Koka said his party” “more similar the past we decay” should will continue to respect (alliance) agreements with the PD at the local level in order not to affect local governments. How is it possible for LSI to oppose the Democratic Party in the national elections while maintaining alliances with it at a local administrative level? Can Ilir Meta ride two horses at the same time? Clearly this must be a temporary solution designed to minimize opposition at the local level and to gain time until the association with PS is completed at local levels.
The LSI defections from top governmental posts were quickly replaced with newly nominated political leaders and also with personalities who have excelled in other areas. The Minister of Education Myqerem Tafaj of the PD will also cover the post of vice prime minister. Florion Mima is replacing Edmond Haxhinasto as the Minister of the Economy. The Minister of Culture Aldo Bumci is now the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Visar Zhiti, a well-known writer and intellectual who was condemned to thirteen years of prison by the communist regime for political dissent, is now the Minister of Education. The well-known doctor Halim Kosova is the Minister of Health, replacing Vangjel Tavo. Bardh Spahia is the Vice minister of Health. The majority was able to master 72 votes against the 59 votes of the opposition to confirm the newly appointed officials.
The exit from government participation of LSI and its emerging coalition with the obstructionist opposition that has damaged the interests of Albania at home and abroad has created opportunities for the PD to align itself with pro-democracy and pro EU integration forces. The appointment of Visar Zhiti in particular, as Minister of Culture, promises a more open approach on the part of the government toward the full disclosure of the communist crimes of the past. Visar Zhiti’ literary work depicting in touching poetical terms and images the plight and the suffering experienced by thousand in the communist repressive system was recently highlighted at a conference in New York (see the latest publication of Dielli).Visar Zhiti is now the Minister of Culture.
It is up to those who value freedom and democracy to unite their forces and in support for pluralism, rejecting yet another attempt by the socialist to camouflage themselves as agents of progressive change. The hunger strikes and the violent riots sponsored by Edi Rama in recent months belie the unwillingness on the part of the socialists to work in a democratically constitutional frame work.
While Edi Rama continues to be a great threat to democracy, the opportunity available to the Albanian people to reject once and for all the communist legacy has never been greater.
Photo: The swearing ceremony presided by President Nishani – Tirana April 4, 2013