DW: Crisis, corruption and elections in Albania

DW: Crisis, corruption and elections in Albania

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Parliamentary elections are being held next Sunday in Albania, which is plagued by economic crisis and corruption.

The country is considered to be the “Colombia of Europe” with regard to hashish crops according to DW.

Albania is a rather special case in Europe. After decades of political isolation, a change was made in the early 1990s. A change in the absolute chaos where too many Albanians acquired illegal weapons by invading army depots.

The small state of the three million inhabitants is the “Colombia of Europe”. The hashish crop center with a turnover of billions but as of 2009 also a member of NATO. A state where the parliamentary elections had to be postponed for a week because the opposition stubbornly refused to participate. The compromise proposal of the Christian Democrat MEP David McAliser was the one that managed to get the situation out of the stalemate.

According to a poll, 56% of citizens hope to be able to leave the country because of economic and social difficulties. The German Christian Democratic Party had an advisory role in drawing up the economic program of opposition Democrats, mainly with a view to creating jobs. Opposition leader Ljazim Basha has also had contacts with the US in his recent visit. On the other hand, foreign diplomats in Tirana, Brussels and Washington believe that the leader of the Socialist Party and Prime Minister Edi Rama is in a position to bring Albania out of the crisis. Rama has said, however, that he will abandon politics if the Socialists lose the election. He tells us that the change in the country can only happen when the Socialist Party becomes self-reliant and stops co-operating with the “smaller corrupt” parties.

Race against hashish crops

The issue of controversy in the election campaign is the cultivation of hashish. Clearly, despite government efforts to restrict, its cultivation has expanded. Two months ago, President Bujar Nisani warned that “many tons of hashish seeds” are in the country.

The problem is that in the north and south, the very poor population can only survive by cultivating the illegal hashish crop. With the cooperation of corrupt officials, police officers and judges, there is a turnover of several billion euros.

The opposition accuses Rama of being the “commander of the drug army, who holds the entire society hostage”. Cabinet claims that only last year destroyed two million cannabis plants. The opposition does not want to be reminded that when they ruled, from 2005 to 2013, they drew their power primarily from the areas where the hash is being cultivated.

The international interest brought together 800 police officers in June 2014, who entered the village of Lazarati. Residents have shown great resistance to the destruction of hash-crops using automatic weapons. In this operation thousands of plants were destroyed.

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