Freedom House Report: Albanian Democracy Stagnated in 2017

Freedom House Report: Albanian Democracy Stagnated in 2017

TIRANA, April 12

Corruption remains a serious problem in Albania, Freedom House’s latest Nations in Transit 2018 report that was released on Wednesday highlighted. The main findings of the report that assesses democratic governance in 29 post-communist states say that democracy in Albania stagnated in 2017 as every step was offset by another one backward. Therefore, the Albanian classifies as a transitional government or hybrid regime. The elections held on June 25 were one of the few bright spots in the report. Meanwhile, for 2018 Albania holds the promise for improved governance as well as the danger of authoritarianism.
The report surveys all the main events that took place in Albania during the last year. With the exception of the parliamentary elections, Freedom House report is very critical about the rest.
It highlights that progress seen during the elections and against corruption and bribery was offset by the election of the temporary General Prosecutor with a simple parliamentary majority by the ruling Socialist Party, the boycott of the opposition that undermined the justice reform, and the election of Ilir Meta as President.
“There was some progress in 2017 in the war against administrative corruption and bribery, especially in the police force. There was also progress in the war against drugs, as reflected in a marked reduction of cannabis cultivation,” the report says.
However, all this faded when the parliament rejected a request by the Prosecutor’s Office to remove the immunity of ex-minister of interior Saimir Tahiri so that he could be arrested following serious revelations by Italian law enforcement agencies that he was connected to an Albanian-Italian drug trafficking ring. Tahiri attended Thursday’s parliamentary session as an independent lawmaker.

The report also highlights issues related to media independence including self-censorship and the intimate connections between politics, business, and media.
Reactions came after the publication of the report by the Albanian Presidency spokesman Tedi Blushi, who considered the report in function to unilateral political agenda. On its part, Freedom House’s Director of Communication Robert Burry reacted upon a request made by the Albanian Service of Voice of America (VoA). Burry said that Freedom House encourages all sides to read the entire report.
On the other hand, Albanian analysts point out that the absence of popular and political elites is more concerning than the parliamentary clashes between the majority and opposition because both are disconnected from reality and the lives of Albanian people.

News Source/Photo Credit: Freedom House

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