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Chaos and Covid in Albania 2021.

Chaos and Covid in Albania 2021

Martin Henze

Demokracy, the government of the people by the people for the people.

Albania has finally received the German vaccine from Biontech on Monday. Earlier this week, 110 employees together with Prime Minister Rama, were vaccinated with the German vaccine from Binontech.  Rama informed that 957 vaccine doses were donated by a European country that wished to remain anonymous. What do you say to this ?

Henze: Well, the EU has promised that the Balkan countries will also receive European vaccine officially, that goes without saying, we stand with the Albanian nation.

So everything is good, isn’t it ?

Henze: Well, in the meantime, a customs declaration from Monday, the batch number of the vaccine and pictures of the individual vaccine doses reached us, then the delivery from Germany, at noon, arrived at Tirana airport.

The spokesman of the German Ministry of Health, Sebastian Gülde, said on Tuesday this week, in response to a request from the international press, that “the German government has not sent vaccine doses to other countries,” adding that the country has “no information about the donor.”

According to the customs document from Tirana, the vaccines were probably transported “by hand,” that is, privately. 

This is, of course, unusual, as this vaccine may only be transported in special containers and at 70 degrees below zero. However, since vaccination was done on the same day, it is possible that it was transported only at a few minus degrees because of the fast transport and there is a discrepancy with the statement of their prime minister

And where is the problem?

Henze: Of course, this is all problematic, there was no donation from Germany, so there seems to be a discrepancy with the statement of their prime minister and the reality.

In addition, according to the general state of knowledge, the vaccine is currently not given to private individuals. 

Private transport of vaccines , from Germany are subject to very strict rules. It is currently impossible to know whether these rules have been respected. If not, the transport has been punishable.

And, of course, the question arises, where does the vaccine come from Germany, because according to information from the German Ministry of Health, the vaccine does not come from the German state.

Has it then been stolen, who paid for it? Has the vaccine been damaged during transport so that it cannot be vaccinated for health reasons. 

The process shows us that the Albanian government is not a serious negotiating partner for the EU, the process meets the criteria of a comedy from a banana republic.

All questions, which must be answered due to the not existing transparency of this case now naturally by the Albanian government.

If these vaccines were obtained in Germany through the realization of a crime, indeed an extraordinary problem exists between the Albanian government Rama and the European Union.

If the vaccine was transported incorrectly, there may be a problem for the vaccinated people in Albania.

It is about Greece. Why is Berlin concerned?

Henze: In the South -East, triggered by the dispute between Greece and Turkey, missionary sentiments are fueled by the dream of territorial expansion. All states could point to ‘unredeemed’ brothers or make historical claims to territories beyond their borders.

You see, we have seen much problematic development in this evolution.

The Balkan wars of 1912,1913 were not only the prologue to the gigantic genocidal battles of the First World War, fascism and the following communism, also the attack on Croatia in 1992/1999 on Kosovo, the attempt of genocide of the Albanian population, but above all military operations to complete the Serbian, national project. 

You also remember, until 1995 operated – on the long leash of the Greek secret service EYP – the underground organization Mavi. In April 1994, a Mavi commando raided an Albanian border garrison and shot dead two soldiers. This assassination, intended as a beacon for the “armed struggle” against the “colonization” of northern Epirus, triggered an Albanian-Greek crisis that was not settled until a year later. 

In January 2010, the Albanian Constitutional Court annulled the treaty on the delimitation of maritime economic zones between the southern coast of Albania and the Greek island of Corfu, which had been signed nine months earlier. 

After the socialist Rama, replaced the pro-European democratic government, he has now, again, based on a 1990 agreement of the communist Hoxha government in 2020, concluded an agreement with Greece and ceded national territory on a massive scale. 

In this context of the still unresolved dispute between Turkey and Greece, the socialist organization Rama has now ceded national land, apparently without a neutral, international law examination of the actual legal situation and the possible raw material deposits, why?

In the Balkans and Greece, as well as Turkey and Bulgaria, missionary sentiments are fueled by the dream of territorial expansion. All states could point to ‘unredeemed’ brothers or make historical claims to territories beyond their borders. In addition, the Rama administration fears that it will not be re-elected on April 25, 2021, hence probably the helpless attempt to search for allies.

However, in today’s Southeastern Europe, whose states are all members of the European Union or aspire to join the EU, territorial claims have become anachronistic vis-à-vis EU partners. 

This is due to the fact that, because of the Single Economic Space and Schengen, there is no need for such border conflicts. That the Rama administration fears that it will not be re-elected on April 25, 2021, hence the helpless attempt to find allies.

However, in today’s Southeastern Europe, whose states are all members of the European Union or aspire to join the EU, territorial claims have become anachronistic vis-à-vis EU partners. This is due to the fact that due to the unified economic area and Schengen there is no need for such border conflicts. 

Rama should also know this. Does he not want Albania to become a member of the EU? It seems so. But the old dreams and traumas are still present as a shadow that will also fall on this process.  

Greek territorial sea with limited reach ?

Henze: Since territorial claims to the sea, whether they touch the continental shelf and others, are complicated questions of modern maritime law, partly they are regulated in the SÜR, partly, however, also customary law intervenes, also the danger of an economic zone and fishing prohibitions can threaten. 

All difficult and highly complex issues, which should be solved only at a neutral negotiating table, for this time and an orderly procedure is needed and also the acceptance of the population must be found, otherwise the conflict will continue to exist. 

Albania’s upcoming negotiations with the EU are the right place to resolve such issues. To refer to old communist agreements from 1990, which are certainly also legally irrelevant, does not help in the matter, also the Rama organization has given up an interesting negotiating position of Albania towards the EU for no reason.

A long-term solution must be found that is viable for both nations and does not build up additional problems that fuel the conflict between Turkey and Greece.

Political elections will be held in Albania in April. But there are still many problems, such as the media freedom law, judicial reform and the Venice Commission. What are the main problems that need to be solved?

Well, the European Union is based on common values, which include fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law, and also free press and elections. 

They are the foundation of our societies and our common identity. Practically connected to this is also the economic area. The rule of law and a free economy are the successful model of more than 70 years of peace and prosperity in Europe.

Independent and functioning courts that guarantee the protection of fundamental rights and civil liberties, an active civil society and free and pluralistic media are indispensable for a strong democracy, as are free elections. 

Is that all?

Henze: No, an essential component of the rule of law is the people. Because people have to trust and accept the rule of law. 

Without trust, without acceptance in the rule of law and the state organs, no state can function. The best example of this is Albania. The legal reform has rather destroyed the trust and acceptance of the Albanian population , a police state has been established in the shadow of the legal reform. Trust and acceptance can only be built through democratic 

Elections must be brought about again and for this an election law, according to EU standard, is needed, which does not exist at present.

Is this also the view of the EU Commission?

Von der Leyen increasingly impresses me with her commitment. I think that after years of political commitment in Germany, she has now found her true destiny. Europeans can be proud to have such a talented and at the same time humane Commission President in Brussels.

President von der Leyen’s political guidelines set out the intention to establish an additional and comprehensive rule of law mechanism as an important building block of the EU’s and Member States’ shared commitment to strengthening the rule of law. 

The mechanism is designed as an annual cycle to promote the rule of law and prevent problems from arising or worsening. 

Its focus is on improving understanding and raising awareness of problems and significant developments in areas that have a direct impact on upholding the rule of law – the judicial system, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional aspects related to the system of checks and balances. By identifying challenges, Member States are helped to find solutions to protect the rule of law together and with mutual support from the Commission, other Member States and stakeholders such as the Venice Commission. 

Albania has felt this, since 2014 Albania has been expected to meet the Copenhagen criteria and since early 2019 an additional 15 criteria before negotiations can begin. Ram has not delivered, a political disaster for the future of Albania.

Does the EU have to set such tough conditions?

Yes, of course. This is normal procedure, we Europeans do not need to talk to anti-democratic, corrupt governments. Why should we promote anti-democratic governments, give them our tax money or accept them into the EU? 

In this respect, hard criteria have to be met first by the interested countries. Hence the legal reform in Albania. The only problem is, the results of the legal reform are a complete failure, the current Rama government is responsible on the one hand, but also some ambassadors in Albania and badly qualified, international advisors were not very helpful.

No rule of law in Albania?

No, Albania is not a rule of law since 2018, no functioning higher courts, corrupt executive, best example is the occupation of the Supreme Court, also it is basically still not functioning and therefore Albania does not have a parliamentary democracy. Albania has an anti-democratic, autocratic government that is trying to establish an authoritarian dictatorship in Albania.

How do you arrive at this assumption?

Of the three pillars of the Council of Europe, the rule of law is the primary element.

The Commission has designed an operational tool to assess the degree of compliance with the rule of law in a given state, and this led to the development of the Rule of Law Checklist, which is based on the five core elements of the rule of law and broken down into detailed questions. These core elements are: Legal certainty, it includes the accessibility of the law. The law must be certain, predictable and easy to understand. Legal certainty does not exist in Albania since 2018, because there are no supreme courts and an unconstitutional parliament, in addition to this there is a corrupt and therefore neutralized executive and the 4th power, is massively put under repression by current government Rama .

The second element is the prevention of abuse of power, that is, protection against arbitrariness, provided that the discretionary powers of officials are not unlimited and are regulated by law. Since there is no legal certainty, arbitrariness in Albania has no limits. We have seen this very well with the unconstitutional , total lockdown, with the corrupt PPP’s or with the violent intervention against peaceful demonstrators in 2019 and 2020.

The third element is equality before the law and non-discrimination:

Equality before the law is probably the principle that most embodies the concept of the rule of law. Equality before the law is also currently lacking in Albania, as there is no court that can provide legal certainty in the last instance. Another criterion is access to justice. 

This access requires the existence of an independent and impartial judiciary and the right to a fair trial. The independence and impartiality of the judiciary are central to the public perception of the judiciary and thus to the realization of the classic formula that “justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.” Access to justice is also non-existent in Albania; either the courts have been abolished, such as the Constitutional Court or the Supreme Court, or critically investigated police officers and jurists must flee to other European countries. The press is intimidated. We can see this very well in the ant-democratic press law from 2019/2020. Your President of the Republic and then the Venice Commission rejected this draft anti-democratic press law. Now , just before the parliamentary election of 2021, the government is trying to bypass the Venice Commission and the President of the State, they are currently trying to adapt the criminal law accordingly and exert indirect pressure on the press through this sector, which of course is likely to affect the freedom of the parliamentary election of 2021. This is the reality in Albania in 2021.

So, Albania is not a constitutional state?

In conclusion, Albania is not a constitutional state according to the criteria of the Venice Commission.  This state of affairs alone, for which the Rama government alone is responsible, means that any action by the government is legally ineffective and means that talks on joining the EU with Albania cannot be held at present. Albania needs a new, a different government.

We think very much of the united opposition, these are real patriots who love their country, your people, real Europeans who want to bring together the rule of law, democracy and protection of the environment and economic growth. So decent parties. 

New parties have been formed in the last few weeks, that’s a success; isn’t it?

There are now, Veliaj and Rama are always engaged, 5 new parties formed in Albania. The attempt to divide the opposition and reduce their chances of success is obvious. We know something like this from communist times; in the GDR there were always, in addition to the communist party, other parties that appeared self-sufficient to the outside world, but were internally financed and under the control of the autocratic governments.

We can only warn the Albanian people not to rely on such parties. Albania has no more time for experiments. The future of the Albanian nation is at stake. The people can see this very well in the complete failure of the Rama government and the complete failure of the Albanian parliament in fighting the Corona pandemic. Many Albanians have died who would not have had to die if there had been a professional pandemic management, instead the Prime Minister Rama makes fun of the mouth guard, tanks are deployed in Dures against the virus and in the summer the ladies and gentlemen of the government went on vacation instead of building the pandemic management for the winter, the vaccination – structure for the Covid vaccine. It didn’t happen, a terrible failure of these people.

Why do you think the international sector in Albania is more connected to Rama?

No, the international community is not working with Mr. Balla, Veliaj , Rama and comrades because they appreciate or want to support this person. No, talks are taking place only because these socialists are currently still the government. You see, we also talk with the communist states of China, Russia and North Korea, but we have no sympathy for these countries.

In this respect, the Albanian people should also not believe that when Europeans or US Amerikana talk to Rama, we think his actions are good.

Yes, of course, there are Europeans in Albania who got much too close to Rama’s system and got involved in dependencies. That happens since people did diplomacy, no one is perfect. But, it should be clear to you, we have this person in focus.

Why did Germany change its relations with Rama? Do you think something happened?

No, we Germans can distinguish very well between the autocratic regime of Rama and the Albanian nation. We have unfortunately experienced two dictatorships in the 20th century and know how these structures organize themselves.

The Germans are very attached to the Albanian nation, also for this reason we protected the Albanian nation in Kosovo in 1999, from the attempt of genocide by the Serbia and bombed Belgrade together with the British and NATO and sent our soldiers to Kosovo. That was the right way to go.

Yes, something has changed, too. Since the exit of the united opposition from the dysfunctional parliament, European and German politicians have looked more intensively at the anti-democratic development of the Rama organization and modified their assessment of the Rama government. 

This was very important, because to a high degree, European politics up to that point had been bombarded with disinformation and fake news about Rama’s politics in Albania. This has changed massively in the last 3 years. A very good development, I congratulate the united opposition for their courage, tenacity and belief in freedom and integration into the EU.

Since 2018, the Venice Commission has been very intensively engaged in the electoral field through the creation of the Council for Democratic Elections, and in the fall, the Albanian President Meta appealed to the Venice Commission because of the actions of the Albanian government Rama. What is your assessment of the process, Mr. Henze?

On June 5, 2020, based on a contractual agreement between the united opposition and the Albanian government in January/February , the Political Council reached a breakthrough agreement on the gradual introduction of depoliticized election administration in line with OSCE BDIMR recommendations. 

The parties also agreed to introduce electronic identification of all voters, to restructure the Central Election Commission, and to compose the Electoral College of vetted judges. Unfortunately, the amendments to the Electoral Code were adopted by the Parliament on July 23, 2020 only in part , in accordance with the agreement of June 5, 2020. However, in addition, on July 30, the Parliament adopted some unlawful constitutional amendments related to the electoral system, leaving the basis of the agreement of June 5, 2020. De facto, it was terminated. 

These amendments of July 23 and 30, 2020 , unrelated to the implementation of the recommendations of the OSCE BDIMR and the contractual arrangement of June 5, 2020, required further amendments to the Electoral Code, which were discussed by the parties in the Political Council, without reaching a compromise before the vote of the Parliament on October 5, 2020. 

Your President Meta has then correctly called the Venice – Commission after the dysfunctional parliament presented him the law, since also at this point, unconstitutional behavior of the government Rama and the dysfunctional, Albanian parliament was recognized.

And what does the Venice Commission say now?

The final report of the Venice Commission on constitutional amendments and amendments to the electoral law contains a total of 11 recommendations. The opinion did not deal with the constitutionality of the amendments to the Constitution, the Venice Commission is not a substitute for a Constitutional Court, that is a national matter and should be the task of the Albanian Constitutional Court once it is operational again.

But still there is no fully, functioning supreme court, is there?

Henze: The unsatisfactory situation with regard to the missing constitutional court is rightly criticized massively by the Venice Commission. 

It demands that this state of affairs not lead to a complete standstill of all legislative activities. The Commission demands that the Rama organization, in the absence of a Constitutional Court, must pay very careful attention to the constitutionality of the procedure they follow and of the laws they propose for adoption and finally pass.

The Commission concludes that the process of adopting the constitutional amendments was extremely rushed and that the constitutional amendments of the Rama organization and the Albanian Parliament violate the most basic rules of democratic legislation, even assuming that the subject of the amendments was previously discussed with the extra-parliamentary opposition. 

Is this to be understood as criticism of the Albanian government Rama and parliament?

Henze: Yes, there has never been such a massive and direct intervention by the Venice Commission since its inception. It shows that the organization Rama has gone outside the international values – order. A no-go for any EU integration of Albania.

And how does the Commission justify its criticism?

Henze: In a constitutional democracy, it’s not just about formal compliance with procedures that allow the majority to govern, but also about consultation and a meaningful exchange of views between the majority and the opposition. It is about acceptance and trust in the state system. Such a procedure has not taken place in Albania, even on the subject of constitutional change.

And now?

Henze: The Venice Commission and the ODIHR call on Albania’s political forces – both inside and outside parliament – to ensure the normal democratic functioning of institutions in the country in the interest of the Albanian people. They recall that the political commitment to fully implement electoral laws in good faith is a fundamental element of a successful electoral reform is. It recommends that all authorities engage in constructive dialogue to implement the law and constitutional amendments in a timely manner.To date, we have not seen any real, trustworthy response from the Rama organization to this report. Not good.

And if the Albanian state fails to do so?

Henze: Then there can be no democratic election in Albania on April 25, 2021.

Is that all?

Henze: Well, that’s enough, isn’t it? If there is no democratic election, Albania will certainly not become a member of the EU in the coming decades. The blame for this lies solely with the organization Rama and his comrades from the ruling party, who seem to want to maintain the status quo of Albania, as a Nacro – state. The Commission has been very specific on the issue of the rule of law and basic democratic rules in elections in Albania. It is all said, the Albanian government must go back to the agreement of June 5, 2020, constitutional changes are unacceptable, this is the result of the assessment of the Venice Commission.

How many times has the Venice Commission issued opinions on Germany?

Never. There have been no requirements to do so so far. Otherwise, the Commission would be known in Germany.

And what is the next step in Albania?

The Albanian nation must decide now for itself whether it wants to have a future, so that also the Albanian children remain in Albania, then the nation must bring about a political change by elections, thus the united opposition elect. Or, if it does not want that, the Albanians must choose the existing administration and national demise. I assume that there will be a fundamental change of government in Albania on April 25, 2021. The united opposition will organize the government. It also has the full support and only it, of the European people’s parties. This political unification is Albania’s ticket to the EU.

The election in April 2021 will be a directional election for the future of Albania. As you know, the EU will massively support Albania in the vaccination against Corona. Rama’s repeated criticism of the EU have no basis and are pure propaganda with the aim of distracting from their own failures. Albania must now set up a pandemic management and install a vaccination structure. You don’t need a prime minister who flies to the USA at the expense of Albanian and European taxpayers to organize vaccines there. An embarrassing theater, which Rama makes there. Surely he has already been vaccinated.

And how do you see Albania’s future development?

I think Lulzim Basha will become Prime Minister of the Albanian Republic on 25 Apil 2021. As a result of this election, we will very soon be able to welcome Albania into Europe, the Albanian economy will be integrated into the EU, we Germans and the Europeans will support Albania very intensively in its integration, and, not to forget, the Venice Commission will then no longer be needed in Albania. The united opposition will provide freedom, prosperity and peace between the political camps, it is the ticket to the EU.

Albania has the potential to become the Switzerland of the Balkans. So, in Albania, tackle this project, the New Deal, create a future for your children, in your own country, in prosperity and freedom and refrain from making experiments now, the situation is too serious for that, also economically Albania is on the verge of insolvency.

Thank you very much for the interview, Mr. Henze.

I thank you and wish the Albanian nation, now that the government with the experts of the united opposition in the interest of the nation in 2021 to work together and to agree on a democratic, free and equal election , European compliant, without constitutional violation and intimidation of the free press.

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