06.06.2021 – 18:41
In Albania, one of the candidates for the leadership of the Democratic Party, Edit Harxhi says that through her project she aims to end the transition to the Democratic Party. In an interview with VOA, she says that the current chairman Lulzim Basha is trying to radicalize the base of party by not accepting defeat in the April 25 elections. Ms. Harxhi comments, among other things, on the decision of the US State Department towards Mr. Sali Berisha or Mr. Basha’s relations with the United States.
Ms. Harxhi, while the race for the leadership of the Democratic Party is gradually coming to an end, what do you offer to the DP, why should the Democrats trust you, the leadership of this political force?
Mrs. Edit Harxhi: Thank you very much for the interview. I have entered this race with a new vision, with a new project, to revive the PD. And my message throughout this period has been to rebuild, to reshape the Democratic Party over the ideals of the ’90s. Which means that my vision envisages the end of the transition in Albania and the end of the transition in the Democratic Party. So a project that starts for the first time in these 30 years, which aims to return the Party to the right ideological rails, a deep restructuring of the DP, statutory, political, with strong political theses, to enable the overthrow of the Government as soon as possible.
It is understood that Albanians today are living in difficult times. We are dealing with a Government that in all international reports has had only negative marks. So for this reason I think Albanians deserve much better governance. And I am sure that this is offered only by the democrats and the Albanian right, but a reformed right.
Ms. Harxhi, how much have you been hindered by the fact that in recent years you have not been active in the DP structures, despite the fact that you have had occasional criticism of its leadership. This issue was also raised at the meeting of the party leadership, when the candidacies were discussed, saying that you only hit the Democratic Party?
Mrs. Edit Harxhi: I did not hit the PD. I have tried to be critical of the party leadership, because the Democratic Party in these years has unfortunately turned into a party of the president and as the party of the president must definitely change. My being in the party structure is quite well known because I started all my political engagement in 1990 with the Student Movement. Even these years I have continued. Even only in 2018, during the National Assembly I resigned from being in the National Council, but even this was after a very strong battle in the National Council, when at the end of 2017 I presented a new statute for the reform of the DP . So my commitment is comprehensive, in addition to the diplomatic commitment that I keep all the time and I try to be close to the main chancelleries or to inform the main chancelleries about the latest developments in the country
Ms. Harxhi, the DP or rather Mr. Basha talks about an election result that should not be recognized and can never be recognized, citing an “electoral massacre”. On the other hand, he has expressed, and let me quote that “surrendering to those who consider April 25 Rama’s victory and not an election massacre, could lead to a rift.” How do you judge the report of the Democratic Party with the result of the April 25 elections?
Mrs. Edit Harxhi: It is true that there has been a great change in the will of the Albanians, but I think this did not happen on election day because election day was quite normal. International reports show this, as well as the minutes of DP commissioners in all CEAZs. This shows that the elections have been manipulated or the will of the Albanians has been alienated before the election day. We have had the case of patronage workers, the use of the administration, the use of financial means in relation to the earthquake, and others. But I think these happened before the election. What we see today, with the Aoelim Commission of Sanctions, unfortunately nothing has been proven yet, that something happened on the 25th of such a large scale to change the electoral result. I think this result has been set forward. Mr. Basha, I am afraid he is trying to radicalize the democratic base. But despite this massacre, turnout was 46 percent, almost the same, with 0.2 percent moving with the 2017 elections and we have approximately 60 thousand fewer votes than in 2013 when we lost to the SP and their large alliance of left. But at that time, Mr. Berisha took responsibility, as did the DP leadership and its vice-presidents. Today, unfortunately, the alibi of loss is being used, which is an inherent alibi to be honest, but it is being used precisely to reconfirm the incumbent president.
Ms. Harxhi, you have mentioned several times the fact that according to you Mr. Basha for 3 years can not go to the United States because according to you he was denied a visa. Why did you miss this point?
Mrs. Edit Harxhi: I have not slaughtered them. I was asked by journalists about Mr. Basha and relations with the United States. I believe Democrats need to understand, they need to be clear. We can no longer hide anything. I think the US is our main ally. They will be like that forever. We are a party that was really set up by a Student Movement, a popular civic movement in the ’90s, but we are a pure Euro-Atlantic product. For this reason, I am very concerned that the chairman of the Democratic Party in recent years, has not visited Washington for consultations, because the decisions that have been taken in Tirana, such as the decision to hand over mandates as well as the one for non-participation in the local elections of 2019, are decisions that I think have not been fully consulted with the international factor. Then of course they did not consult with the DP members at all because they were unilateral decisions in most cases. For me, cooperation with the US is extremely important in all processes, especially at this stage that we are now when the first Conference for talks with the EU should be organized, and the US has always been there, in terms of integration. in the EU has been a great help. Justice reform is a very important issue that needs to be addressed by the Democratic Party and in consultation with the international community, especially the US and the EU, and the stability of the region, which is key for our country, and I think the DP can give much in this respect.
You talk about the need for close cooperation with the US. Meanwhile, we have a decision from the US State Department which prohibits Mr. Berisha and his family from entering the US. Mr. Berisha is a historical figure of the Democratic Party and a man of influence in this political force. The more you are concerned about this fact and do you think that this decision will have consequences in the DP, the more that Mr. Berisha will be a deputy in the next parliament, so he is still active in politics…
Mrs. Edit Harxhi: The day the decision came out was a very sad day. It was a serious event. Of course, it has shocked the entire right-wing electorate, and the membership of the Democratic Party due to the fact that Mr. Berisha is a historical figure of the Democratic Party, has an extraordinary contribution to democracy and the Albanian national cause. However, his decision to address this issue individually, I think was a decision that has divided his position and this issue, from the party itself. I do not believe that there will be repercussions regarding the DP in the future. I can not prejudge the decisions of the State Department and the allies in this case. I think that this issue can continue to be treated as Mr. Berisha started.
Doesn’t it seem a bit contradictory, because it seems that in the trial you are more tolerant of what happened to Mr. Berisha, while in the case of Mr. Basha you measure the fact that they did not give him a visa and this affects relations with the US?
Mrs. Edit Harxhi: I do not believe that this is the case because Mr. Berisha left the DP, he took his responsibilities for the loss of 2013, despite the fact that he has had political activity during these 8 years in the parliamentary group of the DP. He remains a very well-known political and public figure in the country. Again, I think it is the duty of the current chairman of the Democratic Party to decide and have strong foundations and ongoing consultations with the US.
Ms. Harxhi, I remember that at the beginning of this race, not only you but also other candidates talked about unequal conditions. Now almost two weeks have passed, do you still remain this assessment? How did you see the situation on the ground, in the branches of the Democratic Party?
Mrs. Edit Harxhi: This is an unequal race. It started as such. The decision to approach the date of the elections on 13 June from the 22nd of July that was foreseen was an arbitrary, anti-statutory decision to be fair, because we just came out of a pair of elections, from which they came out very desperate, and we should PD membership to be able to recover, to make an in-depth analysis. This was not done because Mr. Basha asked to be reconfirmed in office apparently and this time he wanted to enter the race without leaving the position of chairman. This of course makes it unequal, because I am competing in this case with the current chairman of the DP, when he uses all the administrative, human and financial resources of the Party and the other candidates in the race, I and two other colleagues do not benefit from these resources financial, administrative and human. Meanwhile the situation is such that we still to this day do not have the lists. I believe that Albanian-Americans understand very well what it means not to have the lists on hand. The lists of members of a democratic party are not open, they are unfortunately closed lists and we aim for opening and uniting the membership. The second is the lack of a representative on election commissions. Mr. Basha says otherwise and acts differently on the ground. Because if these were to happen before the general elections in Albania, I am sure that the DP would reconsider participating in the elections in front of the Socialist Party in this case. But the race is unequal. However I have said before that for me politics is moral.
Ms. Harxhi, how difficult do you see the leadership of the Democratic Party, in case of an invitation, at a time when many of those who will be in the hall of the new parliament in September, have come out in support of Mr. Basha, and have not spared criticism even the accusations against you, and your other colleagues running against Mr. Basha?
The Democratic Party is much larger than the Parliamentary Group. The DP today has a wide membership, about 75 thousand members, as the latest figures show. In addition, there are 625 thousand citizens who have given their vote of confidence to the DP. I think the parliamentary group will be a strong group. I do not find the governance of the DP difficult. We just need a deep, quick reform. And I am sure that through the parliamentary group, strong voices in the Albanian parliament from the DP and the united opposition and together with a deep reform built on the ideals of the ’90s, setting some new milestones, by those that were in the ’90s, such as anti-communism, or the issue of property treatment, rightful owners, or the absorption of the middle class and youth. we will be able to achieve a victory as soon as possible.