What’s going on in Albania? and a message for those who don’t get the West – by Ralf Gjoni

Tirana, Albania | 25 Feb 2019 – It’s almost impossible to be indifferent to such a flamboyant period of Albania’s politics, when in fact, simply lifting the provincial dark glasses would suffice to clearly see what’s going on in this country.

Many ‘tear gas bombs’ have been thrown around lately, not like those thrown at the boulevard, but a different kind, aimed at creating a permanent foggy smog of truths and fake-truths which are being circulated by media outlets serving the political gossip machine which holds the grip on Albania’s neo-ottoman public opinion.

Everyone in Albania is a political commentator. These endemic ‘pantomaths’ display an expert-like, know-it-all idiotic competence, especially when they comment on regional geo-political issues as if it were simple bread and cheese. Few of them get the West!

One of the latest dangerous ‘tear gas’ media bombs distributed around, claims that the western world has a thousand and one problems, it is being reconfigured and as such, has no idea or interest what’s going on in the Balkans.

According to this theory circulating around, western diplomatic representatives in peripheral countries like Albania, Macedonia or Kosovo, are either incapable, or too busy with their personal corruptive affairs, and as a result, they keep misinforming Washington, Berlin, Paris, London or Brussels.

So, “forget them” say local politicians, as we can stir the boat ourselves, straight into open sea and define the rules of the game along our way, as we please. And the problem is that a growing crowd of the media consumption contingent is buying such an ill rationale of thought, without understanding who pulls the strings in the West.

In truth, such an open war against the West and the stubborn folly we have witnessed in recent days, aims to delegitimize some of the most important projects attempted to be initiated in Albania during these last 30 years – the creation and strengthening of democratic institutions, a competitive economy based on principles of a truly free market, political pluralism based on polyphonic political parties, human and property rights, EU and NATO membership, and lastly the establishment of a functional and credible justice system, outside the hands of local butchers who have recklessly massacred the system during the last three decades.

These are in fact the foundations of any successful western democracy and economy; they are pillars holding a political and social system which makes the difference between prosperity and poverty – but which this ignorant ottoman seed here in the Balkans, does not get. Or perhaps, it understands it very well, but does everything possible in their power to block its penetration into the society, by mobilizing a socio-political resistance against the creation of a ‘quasi’ western institutional economic system with properly functioning internal mechanisms, out of local political control.

The West, conscious it has failed to cultivate such essential democratic basis in Albania or in its vicinities since the fall of the Berlin wall, appears to have decided to change the rules of the game and kick-start the establishment of the ‘system’.

It is important to understand also that eastern powers have been investing across Europe, and especially in south-east Europe, against the creation of such a system, strengthening the positions of local ‘war-lords’ and their puppets. But there is a problem – in that war lords have no place in the West.

It is true that the western world has a million problems, that the Balkans are peripheral to their attention, Albania being a mere tale of it does not really matter, and that several diplomatic representatives across our region seem like incapable bureaucratic species who work tirelessly to serve their own career ambitions. It is also true that Brussels has long suffered from the vegetation of such bureaucratic species, who have in fact damaged the European project, as lately confirmed by many European capitals.

However, such episodic bureaucrats are too tiny to impact the overall functionality of the western system which operates upon strong foundations of political values, justice and strong interest groups, whose real architects and masters determine global currents and alliances while maintaining control over the digestive and excrement apparatus of the system.  

Not even Trump, May, Macron or Merkel can play with such an hierarchic structure. They merely serve politically in order to guarantee the continuation of the system and its future success.

In comparison, Albania and its mini ‘bayraktars’ seem like a bunch of bumpy kindling branches which interfere with the harmony of a solid stack of wood. This is why the kindling is the first to burn in the fire.

With that in mind, you’ve got to be naive to believe that what’s taking place in Albania, Macedonia or even in Kosovo during these last years, months or even days, is linked to personal manoeuvres of small political players.

Quite the opposite! These are times of structural tectonic changes. No one, whether in power or in the streets, will be capable to stop the fury of the punitive state-formation storm which is blowing from the West, nor will they be able to stop the re-consolidation of NATO borders against the eastern autocratic club. Not because the West loves us so much, but because this is how the world is currently being divided.  

Global alliances are being redefined and the West is consolidating its ranks. Albanians have no other choice but to tighten their seat belts and get ready for a new world order, where unlike 1945, and to our good fortune, the Albanian speaking people will be part of the democratic western camp. But no longer as we please and without our usual disregard for western demands.

In practice, this approach dictates a swift progress in the reform of the justice system, a categorical and non-negotiable refusal by western capitals to accept any anti-democratic attempts to destabilize the country, eventual punishment of many criminal and corruptive assets, the consolidation of the Adriatic strip within NATO and eventual inclusion of the region in the European Union, whatever shape and form the union may have in the future.

Albanian politicians should stop pretending to be deaf or blind and they should not be playing tit-for-tat games with ‘Uncle Sam’. Who has eyes, may see! Who has ears, may hear! Who has brains, may think! The time of local ottoman bayraktars is gone…