By Viktor Mark Daragjati, BEME, MSME, PE/
A meeting between Albanian Government and representative of Albanian American Diaspora Organizations has been announced. Once again the well intentioned but quite vulnerable Albanian American diaspora is drawn into participating in an event that will showcase a doctored image of the Albanian Government.
Once again, the Albanian Diaspora, in its commendable endeavor to foster a better relationship with the Albanian Government, may have misread the significance of this initiative, apparently sponsored, if not directed by Edi Rama.
The event, in all likelihood, will be a public relations success, aimed at legitimizing the resurgence of a vaguely defined neo communist dictatorship, by decorating it with yet another trophy: A meeting with the Albanian[American diaspora in Washington.
The Rama regime is based on an a majority, allegedly bought, in the poorest country in Europe, at the miserable cost of $5 per vote and is being consolidated by means of economic pressures, favoritism and by various incentives and retaliations.
Rama, counting on a veto proof parliamentary majority, continues to side step human rights in many astute ways, even allowing public and official expressions of support for Enver Hoxha’s defunct dictatorship, whose crimes he fails to condemn, and whose image he is reintroducing (see Hoxha’s embellished personal bunker). Rama continues to ignore the Albanian Constitution by denying President Nishani, for example, the separate and distinct authority of the Presidency (see the landmark case of the “expedited” appointment to the Holy See of Vizar Zhiti, an author and formerly politically persecuted poet and writer). Under his rule, property confiscated by the regime of Enver Hoxha, later redistributed by the Regime of Ramiz Alia to new owners, is being legalized while the legitimate owners, the Albanians who went to exile to escape the atrocities of Communism, are denied the right of “restitution”.
To strengthen his political stranglehold on the country, Rama has redistricted the Albanian political landscape by eliminating the politically status of smaller municipalities. Small municipalities have been, in fact, transformed into administrative districts (Reforma Territoriale) whose leadership is no longer locally chosen as it should if the Constitution were to be upheld. Local leaders are, instead, appointed by the regional governments, which, in most cases, are controlled by Rama. The Rama regime continues to thrive on corruption, even using monetary compensation to buy the support of the very victims of communist persecution. Overdue reparation damages are selectively payed to some while others are excluded.
Rama had real estate properties of opponents demolished, without due process, while selectively legitimizing properties of his supporters, even when similarly obtained and created and in the same area. He selectively denies legalization of basic residential property to people who have outstanding electrical bills, even though there is ample evidence of overcharging (100% surcharge for late payments) and deficient metering. In a nation of laws, the right to private residential property trumps the right of utility bill collectors. At most, a lien can be put on the property, through legal process in which the rights of the homeowners are fully represented.
Rama uses innumerable illegitimate measures to weaken the opposition and to create a new privileged class of people who already owe their wellbeing, present and future, to the continuity of his neo communist and autocratic regime now being consolidated. Carrier civil servants, postmen, policemen, teachers and military leaders have been arbitrarily dismissed, through deliberately orchestrated forms of reorganizations, in order to make room for a new, Rama dependent, administration founded on nepotism and servility. Entire schools and universities have been closed, based on politically motivated criteria.
If the Harvard Club is indeed aiming to organize a fully inclusive Albanian-American symposium, to give open and sincere voice to the Albanian-American community, it should avoid alienating and excluding the representatives of the Albanian anticommunist community and especially those who have strived to promote a truly democratic future for Albania, based on legitimate institutions and policies aimed at improving the standards of the nation, including the underclass of the formerly oppressed and now forgotten people . We Albanians may be forgiving but are not forgetful of our past and truly whish for an Albania free of the corrupt and dehumanizing Enverist-Communist legacy.
At this point Harvard’s New York Club or risks being exploited by a corrupt regime seeking to marginalize the last vestiges of freedom loving Albanian-American institutions, to side step the last hurdle that stands in the way of a neo communist petty dictatorship. They do so because they are incapable of championing equal rights, universal inclusiveness, equal social and economic opportunity and political freedom. Their aim, given the backdrop of manipulations witnessed so far, is not so much to develop the economy of Albania but rather to generate an inflow of money, to be siphoned via corrupt accounts, to provide additional means to buy and consolidate political power.
Indeed, the first steps taken by Rama upon assuming power, vis-a-vis the Albanian-American community, have been nothing if not discouraging. The Rama Administration has the dubious distinction of having simply tweeted to close the Albanian Consular service in New York, denying Albanian-Americans the basic civic services that all civilized countries provide to their citizens abroad.
The unspeakable tragedy that afflicted, in the dawn of its independence, the small but proud nation of Albania, cannot be overlooked without mourning and lamenting the deep and unbearable losses it caused, without drawing any lessons from it, without a commitment not to repeat the horrible mistakes of the past, without a legitimate closure. The Pope’s visit to the WTC memorial is a moving example of how to mourn the loss of innocent civilians.
Mass and individual unmarked graves, created during the harshest period of communist oppression, remain dishonored and the martyrs of democracy continue to be forgotten. A country which ignores its true heroes of freedom and independence and replaces them with the impostors of the now defunct Marxist-Leninist aberration cannot be considered democratic.
Much healing is needed and a two way honest communication process must be established and more respect must be shown to the Albanian-American community before the trust that leads to economic investments can be created. A first step would be to reopen the Albanian Consulate in New York.
Albania does not offer a promising investment environment at this time. A country whose economy is significantly based on narcotic traffic, human traffic, contraband and corruption, which includes in its legislation and government indicted criminals, cannot aspire to have a bright economic future. A country which does not fairly promote small enterprise initiatives, does not encourage legitimate domestic and foreign investments to help create jobs and which suffers, instead, from the unending exodus of its unemployed young people, cannot have a sustainable economy. The most valuable Albania export is unfortunately represented by its sons and daughters who leave their homes and their families to seek a decent working life abroad. The most valuable industry is the money laundering system.
This event, to be fully inclusive and reflective of the aims and aspiration of the Albanian people, and to do justice to Harvard’s honored reputation, must include representatives of the movements that opposed communism, of the victims of communist persecution, and of those excluded by the partisan policies of Albania’s post-communist regime, who had to take the roads of exile to restart with a new life abroad. Based on the posted announcement it can also be inferred that representatives of the Albanian opposition parties are not invited to participate in an event that should be apolitical.
These are the most pressing and least openly addressed issues that require an honest and clear response from the Albanian Prime Minister if he is to encourage investments in Albania.