Students Flock Albania Capital in 4th Day of Unprecedented Protests

Tirana, Albania | 9 Nov (Tirana Echo) – Thousands of university students have gathered in Albania’s capital Tirana today requesting the government to lower tuition tariffs and improve overall student rights.

This was the 4th consecutive day of an unprecedented demonstration unseen in Tirana’s streets since December 1990 when students gathered at the verge of a collapsing communist regime, prompting many across the media and social networks to label the latest protest as the ‘Second December’.

Students who have so far refused any political parties to join their gathering, want socialist prime minister Edi Rama to withdraw his plans to raise annual fees and fulfil a set of other demands related to living conditions and participatory rights in decision-making processes of student life.

Young people from across the country blocked the main street in front of the Education Ministry and announced they have submitted 8 un-negotiable demands to PM Rama, giving him until Tuesday to respond. If the government does not respond positively, students have threatened to mobilise larger numbers of people in widespread demonstrations across Albania.

Rama, who had earlier referred to protesters as ‘university failures’, delivered a personal plea for dialogue this morning offering to receive a representative delegation by tomorrow, adding that lowering tariffs does not solve Albania’s educational problems.

The need for more funding, better conditions and infrastructure is obvious. But I want to say it clearly that lowering tariffs, further investments and a new library which is being built, do not address the disease, but only the symptoms”, – said Rama in his weekly Facebook address.

However, students have made it clear there is no dialogue unless their demands are met first.

University protests come days after several other demonstrations took place in Tirana, with hundreds of residents refusing to give way to a government sponsored project to extend Tirana’s outer ring road, accusing the government of corruption.

Albanians have grown increasingly frustrated as their country is captured by widespread endemic corruption and high levels of organised crime with strong links to politics.

Last month, a Gallup poll found that 79% of Albanian youth would rather abandon the country than build their future in there, the highest number of desperate youth in the Balkans.

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