10.06.2021 – 19:49
In Tirana, the latest crackdown by US President Joe Biden on corrupt officials obstructing democracy and the rule of law in Albania and the Western Balkans was met with optimism in scholars’ circles.
They stated that these are concrete and determined steps to fight internationalized corruption in the same way that internationalized crime is being fought.
According to them, this is an area where Albania also has a lot of work to do, as corruption is widespread at all state and social levels.
Corruption in Albania is currently at one of the highest stages of its development, says Gjergj Vurmo, one of the well-known social and legal scholars in Tirana, of the Institute for Democracy and Mediation.
He added that corruption has gripped entire sectors of Albanian life and it is becoming almost impossible to fight this phenomenon with existing legal instruments, so much so that in Albania, as in the US, it can be considered a fundamental threat to the country’s security.
According to him, the most important international indices that measure the level of democracy, show that Albania has been on the dive for several years and is in one of the most difficult moments of its democracy.
Therefore, a deeper and more honest analysis of corruption is needed, leaving aside the many years of hypocrisy, says Mr. Vurmo, and President Biden’s order is both an encouragement and a vision for future anti-corruption activity.
“Corruption, as a threat to security, requires a sincere analysis, not to start policies to blame the parties to each other, but to give a lasting solution to this problem. This is not done with the next strategy, it is not done with the next plan, it is not done by throwing ashes in the eyes of Albanians, ourselves and the internationals, but it is done by taking measures with higher determination. The measures will be painful both for politics and for some individuals, who are part of the economic elite, and who in some way in these years are ruling this country “- says Mr. Vurmo.
Researchers claim that in some areas of the functioning of the Albanian state, corruption is closely intertwined between illegal political and economic interests and organized crime, thus becoming an extremely disturbing phenomenon, as appears in all domestic and international reports, which measure with the meter of corruption and the degree of democracy in Albania.
Regional affairs expert Ledion Krisafi at the Institute for International Studies says the latest US decision is a historic decision for the entire Western Balkans region because it raises corruption as a national security issue and equates it with destabilizing elements throughout the region. .
According to him, Albania has failed in the last 30 years in the fight against corruption, which has eroded the administration and the court, pushing the country towards the features of a failed state, which the US and the EU can not allow.
“The message to us from the United States is that the way is open for you: If corruption for us is a threat to national security, for you it must be much more than that. The next step for Albania would be a vetting of the entire Albanian political class in the last 30 years. This is what would mark the logical course of justice system reform. Having vetted the entire judicial system, this should be followed by a vetting of the entire political class, judging by all their sources of wealth in the last 30 years. We can not talk about 30 years of corruption, we can not put on the black list of the US former president and former Albanian prime minister for mass corruption and in the end no one should be punished. The vetting of politicians will give value and meaning to the vetting of justice, which is expected by the citizens as well “- said Mr. Krisafi.
Researchers claim that it is unfortunate that Albanian society hopes in 3 decades to receive incentives from abroad to react against crime and corruption and does not move on its own to hit them with its own institutions.
The courage that comes from the western democratic countries is a push that Albanians must make themselves to get out of the mud of crime and corruption where they are immersed as a state and as a society, they affirmed.
The head of the Academy of Political Studies, Erjon Tase, says that, unfortunately, a part of the Albanian society is silent and tolerates small and big corruption and even votes and re-votes as corrupt political figures.
“Unfortunately, we did not have the right reaction of the citizens in the elections, in support of justice, creating pressure. This new movement coming from outside helps increase internal pressure in anti-corruption efforts. Several moves by the Biden administration to stop travel to the United States, freeze the assets of corrupt politicians, and this further focus on corruption come at a time when justice reform, vetting, is creating positive pressure. to establish an independent judiciary. We all have our eyes on SPAK, on the new justice, but these bodies must be supported with further control measures in the economic field “- said Mr. Tase.
Researchers claim that to fight corruption, society is powerless, while politicians are unmotivated, but international incentives encourage the judiciary to face crime and corruption, and this is one of the greatest expectations of Albanian citizens.
But according to them, no international incentive can be enough to escape corruption and crime, unless the citizens and local institutions move themselves.
US President Joe Biden recently issued an executive order blocking assets and suspending the entry into the United States of persons contributing to the destabilization of the Western Balkans, including Albania, and expanding its scope, including persons , who commit corruption and undermine democratic institutions./ VOA